Yes, Sir, the unrestricted sale of cymag in the manner described is illegal. So far as retail sales are concerned I have therefore nothing to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member on 26th July.
As regards wholesale transactions, the poisons rules lay down that cymag may be sold by way of wholesale dealing by a person who is not an authorised seller of poisons to a purchaser who requires it for use in his trade, business or profession provided that the sale does not take place on premises used for or in connection with a retail business. Before such a wholesale transaction is completed the purchaser must either sign the poisons register or give the supplier a signed order stating his name, address, trade, business or profession, the amount of cymag required and the purpose for which it is required.
It is incumbent on the wholesaler to satisfy himself that the signed order is genuine and that his sales of poisons do not extend beyond the permitted transactions, and in particular to satisfy himself that he is in order in supplying any new customer. Statements made on the order form cannot be solely regarded as sufficieiit evidence that the person signing the order is in fact a person to whom a sale may be made. I am not satisfied therefore that further restrictions on the sale of cymag would be justified.
Why did the right hon. Gentleman mislead the House three days ago when he said that this poison could only be got on retail chemists' premises by a person who signed the register, whereas in actual fact it can be got in any ironmonger's shop by any person at all, as is being done by people who are slaughtering salmon, which practice the right hon. Gentleman seems to be unable to restrict or control, or the black market which arises from it?
I did not mislead the House. I stated the law quite distinctly and clearly, and I have now added a statement of the law in regard to wholesale transactions, in case the people with whom the hon. Gentleman is concerned are selling in a wholesale manner. If the people in the district to which the hon. Gentleman refers are breaking the law, and if he has any evidence of that, I respectfully suggest that the best way is to communicate that fact to the police. The police ought to have the first opportunity of seeing that the law is enforced.
In restricting the sale of cymag in this part of Scotland, will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he is not unduly interfering with the activities of private enterprise?
Arising out of the reply of the Secretary of State, wherein he invites me now to give the evidence to the police, will he bear in mind that that is exactly what I tried to do a few weeks ago, after several months' neglect by him, when I had to go to Inverness to catch these black marketeers red-handed? Shall I have to do the same with the cymag poisoners?
I claim no virtue of being a successful Sherlock Holmes, but this is a matter for the police. I am sure that the House will commend the hon. Gentleman's activities in the direction of prosecuting crime, but clearly, once he discovers crime, his duty is to report it to the police, whose duty it is to carry through a prosecution.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider requiring that supplies of cymag sold from ironmongers' and agricultural stores dealers' shops should be signed for by the persons supplied?
I have stated the law quite distinctly, which is that it appears to be illegal for any such sale to take place on retail premises without fulfilment of the conditions stated in my last answer. I have now described the conditions which the rules provide in the case of wholesale sales. The kind of transaction which is alleged in the telegram and in the descriptions which have been given by the hon. Gentleman appears to be quite illegal, and therefore appears to be liable to prosecution; but clearly that is a matter for reporting to the police, who will no doubt deal with it in the usual way.
Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that there has been large-scale destruction of salmon by cymag? Does he accept no responsibility for dealing with the matter?
When people discover that the law is being broken, their public duty is to report the matter to the police. I am responsible for the police if they do not do their duty, but, clearly, that is the second stage in the proceedings. Until evidence is laid before the police that a crime is being committed, the police obviously cannot proceed to take steps.