§ CAPTAIN DONELAN (Cork, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, whether he is aware that French fishing vessels now make a practice of visiting certain harbours on the south coast of Ireland for the purpose of selling their fish, to the detriment of the local fishermen; and whether British or Irish fishing boats possess the privilege of selling their fish in French ports; and, if not, will steps be taken to put a stop to this practice?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C. T. RITCHIE,) Croydon
I am informed that French fishing vessels do in some cases visit harbours on the south coast of Ireland for the purpose of selling their fish. Most of the French-caught fish is, however, salted on board and conveyed to Franco. The British law permits French, in common with other foreign boats, to sell their fish in ports of the United Kingdom, but I regret to say that a like freedom is not extended to our boats in France.
§ MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the complaint made in the Question is by no means confined to Ireland, and that the hardship is very much felt in English ports as well? Will he consider the expediency of placing a duty on foreign fish?
§ MR. RITCHIE
I do not doubt that what the right hon. Gentleman states is true. We have made representations to France on more than one occasion, but we have not been able to obtain the facilities we wish for our own boats in France I am afraid that the question as to a duty is one which the right hon. Gentleman must address to another Minister.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
Considering that this grievance has lasted for a generation, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirableness and the propriety of withdrawing from French fishermen the privilege refused to English fishermen?
§ MR. RITCHIE
That would be a policy of retaliation, and that is a policy which I understand this country is not prepared to adopt at present.