HUGH MORRISON, Crofter, Finsbay (50)—examined.
13258. The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected a delegate by the people?
13259. How many people were there at the meeting ?
—There was no meeting. We knew nothing of it till Friday last.
13260. Then who named you to come here?
—I was only to-day asked to go by the people of the place, along with two others. The Notices that were sent to us were kept back somewhere.
13261. What have you got to say on behalf of the people of Finsbay ?
—I am one of seventeen families living there, where formerly there were only two.
13262. How long is it since there were two?
—About twenty years ago.
13263. Where did the other families come from?
—They come from every place that was being put in order, and from which the people were being removed.
13264. Was the land of Finsbay divided among them?
—Somebody of the name of Trotter came and divided the two lots into ten. There are only ten lots still
13265. Were the rents reduced to the two men who formerly held them ?
—The rent remained the same as before for the whole place.
13266. But it was divided among ten people?
13267. And now is the same rent divided among the seventeen?
—The additional seven are cottars, who pay no rent. There are one hundred souls altogether on the place.
13268. How did these cottars grow up ? Were they the natural increase of the place ?
—Yes, these cottars have grown up on the place. There is nothing else a man can do who has to remain and support his father and live in the place as best he can.
13269. What is the summing of the full croft ?
—Their highest rents are 25s.
13270. And what stock do they keep? the summing?
—One cow, two sheep, no horses. We have nothing to work with but the spade and the crooked spade.
13271. How do the people support themselves? Have they any fishing ?
—We live by fishing. I began as a fisher on the east coast when I was sixteen years old, and continued it as long as I was able, but I am not able now.
13272. Have you good boats?
13273. And nets?
—Yes. That what has always supported us, and not the land.
13274. Do they make more by fishing now than they used to do when you were sixteen ?
—No, there is no difference in that respect. The fishing has deteriorated here and everywhere else since that time.
13275. But you say you went to the east coast. Has the fishing deteriorated on the east coast ?
—It is not so good as it was in my time.
13276. We have heard that the wages of the fishermen who go to the east coast have been increased. Are you sure they are not higher now than they were when you were young ?
—Their wages depend entirely on the fishing that they make.
13277. They get so much per cran?
13278. Do they get the same sum per cran now that they got when you were sixteen ?
—I daresay they get that and more now.
13179. What is the remedy you wish to have for your condition ?
—More of the land which God created for man to take his living out of.
13280. Is there any land adjacent to your township at Finsbay which could be added to your crofts ?
—There is ; there is a tack beside us.
13281. What is the name of the tack?
13282. How long is it since that tack was created?
—About twenty-five or twenty-six years ago.
13283. Who lived upon the land before?
13284. Did any part of it belong to these people of Finsbay as hill pasture?
—The people who were removed from Cuidinish were sent away to Australia.
13285. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—What is the name of the present tenant of Cuidinish ?
—A Mr M'Leod.
13286. Is he resident there ?
—His son lives there. He has the farm of North Harris.
13287. You say you want land, and are very much crowded. Did you apply to the proprietor or anybody authorised by him for more land ?
—Yes, we were asking it from the proprietor when he was here this winter.
13288. What did he say to you ?
—He had nothing to say against it, but the lease has still some time to run. We have nothing to say against the proprietor; he is a very good laird.
13289. Then he did not refuse you?
13290. Do you know how long the lease of this place has to run?
—About two years.
13291. Are you living in hopes then?
13292. Was there any particular reason for removing them from the farm—the people who were sent to Australia ?
—No, they went of their own free will.#
13293. Were they not making a living out of it?
—They were making a living there. They went away because they thought they would do better in Australia.
13294. At that time did the people of Finsbay not think of applying for it ? Were they crowded twenty-five years ago ?
—We did not ask for Cuidinish then. If we had done so, we would not have got it.
13295. Who first got it when the poor people went off?
—Malcolm M'Leod got it first, the father of the present occupant.
13296. Are you in arrears of rent—I mean the people in the township?
—No. They are in debt for meal and for food. I have two sons in the militia, and it is on what they get there that we depend.
13297. Does not each man bring home £ 8 and a pair of shoes, and some other extras from the militia ?
—They bring home not more than £2 or £2, 10s. They cannot bring more.
13298. As the people are not in arrears to the landlord, may we take it that they are in a position to take this land of Cuidiuish, and stock it ?
—Yes, if we got a reasonable rent that we could afford to pay.
13299. What is your principal food in this township ?
—Meal and water.
13300. Are you scarce of milk?
—Milk is not to be had at all
13301. What food do you give to the children ?
13302. What do you give them instead of milk?
—Sugar and treacle.
13303. Do you give them tea?
13304. Is it a great want in the bringing up of the children not to have milk?
—There are some of them that would do very well if they had enough of food without milk, which they have not. We get mussels on the shore near us, which we make use of as part of our food.
13305. The Chairman.
—Do you get that habitually, or only when you are in very great straits ?
—It is only when we have no other food that we go to get the mussels to live on.