COLIN MORISON, Merchant, Old Shore More (63)—examined.
26595. The Chairman.
—Are you a delegate?
26596. How long have you been settled as a merchant in your place?
—Seven or eight years.
26597. How were you employed previously?
—As a fisherman or crofter in the place.
26598. What is the nature of your trade?
—Meal, tea and sugar.
26599. Are you a fish-curer?
26600. Is your trade increasing at present?
—It varies; I deal chiefly in meal, and I have to give that away to the poor people, who can ill afford to pay for it.
26601. Do you find that the people are less able to pay for what you sell than they formerly were when you began business ?
—Yes, the profits are worse and the crofts are smaller, and we depend chiefly on the fishing.
26602. What kind of meal do the people buy?
—Oat meal and barleymeal.
26603. They don't buy any wheat-meal?
26604. Do you sell cloth?
—Yes, a little.
26605. Do you find that you have been selling less cloth recently than you did before? are the people able to buy less than they were before?
—Yes, I sell less cloth now; the people can less afford to buy it. The fishing has been getting worse and the people have no means.
26606. Do you find general evidence in your trade that the people have grown poor of late years?
26607. Is it only since the bad season last year that the people have been less able to purchase from you, or has there been a material deterioration in their circumstances'?
—Yes, discounting last year, the people have been gradually deteriorating in their circumstances of late years.
26608. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is that very much owing to the fishing getting worse?
—Not altogether, there is the scarcity of land ; there is no land out of which they can make a livelihood.
26609. Have you any particular statement to make in coming here to-day?
—I have no particular statement; it is the scarcity of land especially that has brought me here.
26610. What size of a croft have you?
—The crofts generally are about two acres; I have one acre.
26611. What amount of stock do they keep?
—I have a horse and three cows, but the croft won't support them; I have to buy provender for them.
26612. What stock do the tenants keep who don't buy provender?
—Two cows and a horse is about the average of what I think the crofts could support.
26613. Do the tenants generally keep a horse?
—Some do, but the majority don't.
26614. What size of holding do you think would be sufficient to keep you comfortably?
—There is no land on our place that could be made to keep a family comfortably. It is all stones and sand.
26615. Is there land in the neighbourhood?
26616. In whose possession is that land?
—It is under sheep.
26617. In whose occupation is it?
26618. What is the name of the farm?
26619. Have the tenants in your place the hill ground?
—Yes, they have some hill pasture, but they are not in a condition to stock it.
26620. How would they be able, if they are so poor, to stock larger crofts?
—Very few could take larger holdings without getting money this might be paid back out of the produce of the place afterwards.
26621. What rent do you pay for the crofts of two acres?
—From £2 to £4.
26622. Have you good houses?
—Very bad, most of them.
26623. Does the proprietor give materials to erect better houses?
—Yes, he gives wood, lime and slate now, but we have to pay it back by instalments.
26624. Not the wood?
—I am not able to say with respect to the wood. We don't pay the lime. I cannot speak with respect to the wood. We pay the slate back.
26625. How long have you been doing this?
—I built a house twelve years' ago. I would not at that time get the wood. I could have got wood and slate for re-paying them, but I did not take them.
26626. Did you build your house as a shop or a crofter's house?
—I built the two. I went into a house formerly occupied by a woman who emigrated, and I re-built it, and then I built a small house for a shop.
26627. What reforms do you want?
—To get more of the land.
26628. Would it be any advantage to have a fish-curing establishment in your place?
26629. Why don't you undertake the fish-curing trade?
—How can a poor man set up a thing of that kind without assistance.
26630. What was your new rent?
26631. Have you any sheep on the hill?
26632. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Are you obliged to buy any food for the beasts?
26633. And the croft is not able in point of fact to winter what you have on it?
—We have a little out-run upon which some sheep might be kept, but the crofts are too poor to winter the stock.
26634. Have you been present all the day?
26635. Did you hear all the previous delegates examined?
26636. Do you concur generally in the statements that they made, that they are very poor?
—Yes, I certainly concur in that.
26637. That they want more land?
26638. And that there is plenty of land in the parish for you?
26639. Are you, from your dealings, well acquainted with all the people, or most of the people, within a considerable circuit?
—Yes, I was born here.
26640. But I mean in consequence of the nature of your occupation?
26641. Do you consider you represent, therefore, all the crofters in the statements you have now made, although these crofters are not now present, or may not have been at the meeting at which you were appointed?
26642. Every one of that class?
—Yes, all my own particular township.
26643. Do you believe, as far as your knowledge goes, that the same feeling pervades others outside of the township?
—Yes, I believe their circumstances are the same.