HC Deb 13 March 1923 vol 161 cc1270-1

asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health whether the Secretary for Scotland is aware that the prosecution of the whaling industry in Shetland has resulted in the closing down of the herring fishing stations throughout the west side of Shetland; that no stations will re-open so long as whaling is permitted; that there has been a consequent loss of capital to curers and of wages to fish workers; and if he will state what further evidence he requires to satisfy him that whaling is prejudicial to the herring industry?

Captain ELLIOT

My Noble Friend is aware that the closing down of curing stations was due in part to the decline of the herring fishing on the west side of Shetland, but the question at issue is whether such decline was caused by the prosecution of the whaling industry. As regards the reopening of stations, I would remind the hon. Member that a few stations were opened last year, and that part of the west side catch of 35,000 crams was landed at these stations. My Noble Friend is aware that the closing of stations has resulted in loss to curers and fishing workers. It is impossible to specify in anticipation what circumstances may occur in future to justify a decision that whaling is prejudicial to the herring fishery. The case hitherto put forward is substantially that in the period before the War the development of the whaling industry and the decline of the herring fishery were coincident in point of time. My Noble Friend considers that evidence or experience showing a causal relation between the fortunes of the two industries would be of consequence.


Are we to understand that there was no reason at all for passing the Act which was passed by the last Parliament?


What is the specific cause of complaint against the whales? Is it that the cutting up and curing of the whales pollutes and fouls the water, or is it that the hunting of the whales chases away the herring shoals?