Sunday, 18 March 2012

Napier Commission at Lochaline (2)

In the evidence that the Commission took at Lochaline is a frank exchange of views between Mr Fraser-Mackintosh and Lochaline estate manager William Henderson Harvie on the reason why people were cleared off the estate. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh does not mince his words. 

36612. You have given us a full and frank statement about the estate so far as you know it; have you ever heard the statement made with regard to property, I can do what I like with my own?
—Yes, but I don't believe that.

36613. Have you heard the other statement that property has its duties as well as its rights?

36614. And which of these do you go upon?
—Property has its duties as well as its rights.

36615. I may take it for granted in this case that the rights of property were exercised when these people were put away?

36616. Take the alternative now; what in the nature of duty was done by the estate for those people?
—I tell you I can give no information about it further than I have done.

36617. Is there any use in beating about the bush; is it not the fact that those people were removed solely and entirely because they were in the way of sheep ?
—Certainly not.

36618. If not, what other reason was there?
—It would have entailed very considerable expenditure upon the proprietor to have built houses and put up fencing to have carried out any system of farming.

36619. That is what I say, the people were in the way. The proprietrix did not choose to spend that money, and therefore they must go and make room for the sheep; is not that so ?
—I have given you all the facts I can.


36624. Is that your answer to my question ? If you find a person go on some years following a certain profession, the pursuit of agriculture in their own way, and you of a sudden put a stop to that which they have been accustomed to, what is the result with these people ; can they at one moment turn their attention to another profession?
—I was not aware those crofters had a profession.

36625. Had not they the profession of agriculture ?
—I was not aware they had land in their possession except a garden and a cow's grass. I don't know what profession you call that.

36626. They said themselves they were happy and contented with their lot and made a living ?
—They were always that, and yet periodically they were in great destitution, and every now and again, as Dr Macleod told me himself, subscriptions had to be got up to assist them.

36627. And that being the case, the estate thought the best thing for them would be to deprive them of what they had ?
—I cannot say what the proprietor then thought. I am merely giving you the information I have. I cannot state what the proprietor thought when I was not made aware of it.

36628. The rental of the estate has increased, has it not ?

36629. The people have been swept away, is that not so ?
—I hear.

36630. The people have been swept away ?
—There is some of them in existence yet; you have seen them.

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