§ 26. Mr. JAMES STUART
asked the Secretary for Scotland what is the total amount of the 12 loans which his Department has approved of under the recent scheme for assisting Scottish fishermen?
§ 30. Mr. DUNCAN MILLAR
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether, in view of the very limited operation of the scheme for the provision of loans to the Scottish drift-net fishermen for the purchase of nets, due to the high rate of 1876 interest exacted and to the stringent conditions attaching to the loans, he is now prepared to modify these conditions and provide the loans at a lower rate of interest than 5 per cent.?
The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. William Adamson)
I propose to answer these questions together, seeing that the two appear to be directed to the same purpose. The amount approved at the time referred to was £413. I do not agree with the suggestion that the limited operation of the scheme up to the present time is due to stringency of the conditions. There are other factors that must be taken into account. In the first place, the existing nets and gear have proved sufficient to enable the catch for the period since 1st April to be increased from 583,000 crans in 1923 to 690,000 crans in 1924, the corresponding figures for the whole year being 687,000 crans in 1923 and 931,000 craws in 1924. I cannot at present give the comparative values, but the values this year are greatly in excess of those realised in 1923 and the fishing has been much more remunerative to the fishermen. In the second place, it appears to me that the importance of bringing in £150,000 of new capital into the Scottish herring fishing industry is being much under-valued by the hon. Members. In the third place, may I say that I believe that this constant campaign for modification of the existing conditions is also having its effect in retarding the operation of the scheme?
§ Mr. STUART
May I ask why the right hon. Gentleman considered it necessary to introduce a Supplementary Estimate for £150,000?
§ Mr. MILLAR
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that money is being advanced to other sections of the community at a much lower rate of interest than 5 per cent.? Why should the fishermen be asked to pay 5 per cent. when money is being advanced to others at 3½ per cent.? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware also that, so far as this scheme is concerned, the fishermen who most needed the help have not been able to get it under the conditions of the scheme? Will the right hon. Gentleman modify the scheme?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by saying that this is introducing £150,000 of new 1877 capital into the industry? Is he not aware that this loan is not taken advantage of because of the stringency of the conditions attached to it?