I beg to move,That, in the opinion of this House, the interests of the fishing industry demand a closer co-operation of various Government Departments, and that among other important matters the Chancellor of the Exchequer should do more to encourage efficient harbours so as to help to secure sound finance; that the Minister of Transport should use his Department to facilitate access to the home markets for the purpose of obtaining cheap food for the people; that the Minister of Labour should both co-operate with the Board of Education to deal with the lack of apprentices and consider this chance of bringing up to date the fishing fleets to relieve unemployment; that the Board of Trade should encourage exports and endeavour, in conjunction with the Foreign Office, to gain concessions in foreign markets; that the Minister of Health should fit the various Acts of his Department more closely to the needs of fishermen, while the whole Government should combine to develop this ancient and important industry.This Resolution is framed in rather a different way from the fishing industry Resolutions which have been passed in this House during the last few years. My reason for endeavouring to frame it in a different way was because I realised that, in a matter of this importance, if we are really to accomplish very much, we must try to avoid two things. In the first place, I would like to express the hope, if I may that the ordinary private Member will avoid during this Debate 2403 using what I may describe as the sort of "Backsheesh, Backsheesh" cry to the Government that is usual in a great many of these Debates. I am not raising the matter for the purpose of asking the Government to give contributions to the industry in many ways, but rather that we may have a closer co operation in the Government towards helping the industry as a whole. In the same way as I hope private Members will endeavour to look at it from a wider point of view, I hope the Government themselves may avoid what many of us who are connected with the fishing industry have always found a very great difficulty, and that is that, whenever you approach any particular part of the Government, you have always been met with the cry, "Next Department, please." There is nothing more hopeless, when you are trying to make some progress in a particular industry, than to be always having it pointed out to you that it is just round the corner, but not just where you are at the moment, and then, when you get there, you come back to where you originally started.
As far as I can understand it, at the present time you have got a very definite check to progress in many of the great Government Departments. I do not think it would be wise this evening, on the eve of the publication of the Report as to how we are to economise, to ask the Government to extend its spending powers in any particular way, but the other day I put three questions to the Government, based not exactly on promises, but, if I might describe them so, on phrases of hopefulness which were used by the Minister of Agriculture last year. I put a question on the subject of wireless, and was met with the answer that little or nothing had been done. I do not think, to be quite frank, that that is the Minister's fault. I put a question in regard to a research vessel for the West of England, and I found that absolutely nothing had been done by the Ministry at all. There, I think very definitely, the Ministry has made a great mistake, even from the economy point of view, because there can be no doubt whatever that, if you could open up new fishing grounds on the West Coast to-day, you would find employment for many thousands of people, and you would also find food for many of our people. It would be a real chance.
2404 The third question I put was on the subject of fish cultivation, and the Minister informed me that he was making good progress with slow-moving fish. It is a fairly slow-moving Ministry very often, and I did not expect them to be going very fast. But the trouble, as I see it, as far as research and an exploring vessel are concerned, is that there are certain sections of the community which rather imagine that research is merely for the purpose of shutting up fishing grounds, and that exploration is for the purpose of opening up fishing grounds, and I very much deprecate the sort of thing that goes on in which one side of a Department is busy shutting up and the other side is equally busy opening up. There are very grave difficulties in the way of shutting up any fishing grounds at the present time, and there is also a very real necessity that we should look after the breeding grounds throughout the whole of the ocean to-day, from many points of view, particularly some of the close in-shore fishery grounds. It is of the utmost importance that they should have a reasonable amount of care and protection.
I am not going to say very much in regard to the counter-Resolution, as I might call it. I realise that, as an expression of piety, the phraseology is such that it must bring great rejoicing to the hearts of the Whips' Office, and I am not at all certain that this piety and this phraseology will not have to serve as the best thing we can get on this occasion, but we can deal with that after we have heard the Minister. I am very sorry indeed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot be here to-night. I fully realise the difficulty of getting anyone so modest as he is, and so essentially one of the Elder Statesmen, to come out and take a part in our Debate to-night, but I would like to point out that there is this point of view, that the fishing industry is, roughly, the sixth largest industry in Great Britain, and that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to conduct the finances of this country in the interests of the nation, he would be wise—or, at least, I think he would be wise, and I believe the House will agree with me—in trying to get into the closest possible touch with those who represent the various great industries. The industry since the War has had very many great difficulties. It 2405 lost many of its best men during the War; it had great financial losses in some respects and great gains in others; and the harbours right round the whole coast were neglected during the War period in a very alarming way.
When you realise the numbers employed in the industry to-day, as compared with what they were before the War, you will realise that the men in that industry made a very definite effort to keep their industry up to strength, and even to progress, as far as that is concerned, but there are certain points of similarity between this industry and that of agriculture. You have seen agriculture gradually decaying through the past generation. That decay has cost the Chancellor of the Exchequer a subsidy to sugar beet, and it has cost an immense amount in remission of rates and very great sums in many ways. It very nearly, but not quite, cost us a wheat subsidy. Surely it is better to take this industry in hand now and expend a reasonable amount of money—and I do not believe it is necessary to expend a very great amount—in developing the industry, in keeping your fishermen engaged in the industry, and encouraging them rather than allow them to drift into the great towns, and leave derelict the fishing villages all round our coasts. That is the reason why I had hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take part in the Debate to-night, and show us where he might help us.
The next point with which I would like to deal is the matter of foreign trade. Here, as far as exports are concerned, I am treading on ground which is always liable to give the Opposition an opening. I am glad to see I have the honour of the presence of the Leader of the Opposition to-night. So far as Russia is concerned, before you can develop any trade in fish, you have first of all to get over the barrage of the 1924 crop which is still in Leningrad. When you have done that, you have got to re-organise the whole of the Russian railway system, and, when that is done, re-organise the purchasing power of the Russian peasant.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman be surprised to hear that herrings have been sold and delivered to Russia in the last quarter?
I would not be surprised to learn that herrings have been sold to some parts of Russia, but 2406 there is a very large difference between being able to export the pre-War volume of herrings and what we would be likely to send to-day. But I do say very clearly—and this is the real point of my argument—that my real desire is not merely to develop one market. No one wishes to develop the Russian market more than I do, but I realise it is a false trail that has been put before the people on the East Coast in this respect. What I wish to do is to draw the attention of the Government and of the House to the vast possibilities there are in the Southern markets of Europe to-day. There has been a most interesting and valuable amount of work done by my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade as regards the development, or the attempted development, of these Southern markets.
If you realise the enormous purchasing power of the peoples along the Mediterranean in many places; if you realise, for the sake of example, the great development in the consumption of foreign meat in Italy during the last two years, you will realise that if only you could get sufficient combination and sufficient organisation between the fishermen of this country and the Italian markets, there is a real opening so far as those markets are concerned. I quite realise that what we want to get into those markets is not merely the second-class type of fish, but also a very large amount of the very best fish from this country. I want to see the Government develop the whole of the fishing industry, so that our trawlers can take a very much more prominent share in the markets of Europe. In passing, I would like to render a tribute to the very fine work which has been done by the Foreign Office in connection with the fishing industry in many ways. I would like to render a real tribute for what they did for our fishermen in a time of difficulty, for instance in Iceland, 12 months ago. All that I want, and all that the fishing industry, I think, want, is that the Foreign Office should continue that work as far as they possibly can.
I would like to draw attention to a real difficulty in the industry. There is not a great amount of unemployment in the industry, and at the same time there is a very great lack of young people coming into the industry. Practically, at the present time, there is no system 2407 of apprenticeship at all. I cannot see why the Minister of Labour should not use his influence and his help. An example was given not very long ago by the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Sir W. Sugden). It was pointed out that in one area there is a great shortage of employment for the men in the shipyards, and at the same time you have, as far as this industry is concerned, a need in many places for many boats, and boats of a larger type, so that they can go further a field. Surely it might be worth the while of the Minister of Labour to see whether, by means of trade facilities, or some other use of his powers, he could not do something to help develop the industry in this way. Again, it might be worth while for the Ministry of Education to see whether they on their side could not do something. I have had some realisation of the immense power and the immense amount of work which can be done by the National Union of Teachers. Surely it might be possible for the President of the Board of Education to call to a private conference some of the teachers who have the greatest knowledge of our fishing districts, and ask them if they cannot hammer out some scheme for increased help in education so far as the children of the fishing villages are concerned. I know very well that Hull and Grimsby have extraordinarily fine technical schools for the development of the fishing industry. By getting a good type of man, and real keenness for this work, I believe the industry can be helped very much if the President of the Board of Education will take his full share in the development.
I see that we have got with us to-night the Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Transport. There are two or three points which I should like to bring to his notice. One of my friends will, I think, draw his attention to a matter of very grave importance so far as the industry is concerned, namely, the question of railway rates. Many men are very, very doubtful of what their position is going to be in a few years' time so far as their best markets are concerned. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has also to deal with the roads of this country. He can do a very great deal to develop some of our rather scattered fishing districts by the develop- 2408 ment of the road system. I would say quite clearly that I know an instance in Cornwall where a better road was made to a rather large fishing port called Mevagissey. The help of the Ministry has been of immense benefit in opening up a very great deal that fishing district at the present time. I want to see him advance and to use his powers so far as he possibly can to help these small, scattered, isolated districts right around the coasts of our country.
I have given an instance of the South Coast of Cornwall, which has nothing to do with my constituency in any way, and I am going to give another instance of a similar thing which might be done, say, for instance at Port Isaac, where I have equally as little connection with the place as in the first instance. I am giving a few illustrations of what might be done by the Ministry of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. In moving this resolution to-night and in drawing the attention of the various Ministries and those representing them to this point, I have done so because I am firmly convinced that when you have got an industry like this scattered around the whole of the island, an industry which has provided your country with many of your best sailors from time immemorial, an industry which is bearing its shares—and a very large share—in feeding our population both during the War and at the present time, then surely it is worth while on the part of the House of Commons to spend some three hours once a year considering, the matter? It is the only opportunity for practical purposes that we get for dealing with this matter, in putting it before the Government, and in asking the Government to realise that it is from this industry that you draw a very large portion of your merchant seamen; that it is from this industry you draw many of your best men in the Navy. Realising what they have done, realising how much this industry has stood for in the past, may we not ask the House of Commons to, at any rate, urge upon the Government to-day to do their best wherever they can to hold out a helping hand to this industry? We also want the Government to realise that by keeping this industry going they are finding employment and finding homes for one of the finest portions of the whole of the British race to-day.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
I beg to second the Motion.
I should like, in the first place, to congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Resolution on his very ingenious attempt to have a Front Bench here this evening. He has succeeded in getting, not only Members on the Front Government Bench, but Members on the Front Opposition Bench as well. I am delighted to see on the Front Government Bench the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade. I want before I proceed to deal with other matters to thank him and congratulate him on what he has tried to do for the fishing industry in the way of developing the export trade. We have not yet had very much success to show for the efforts that have been made, but I am confident of this: that good will come out of the work that has been done by his Department, and that probably before very long a very prosperous trade will be carried on between this country and the countries along the Mediterranean.
I am a representative of what are known as the deep sea fishermen in this House, and though the Mover of this Motion spoke in general terms he seemed to some extent to represent what are known as the inshore fishermen. I wish to confirm the statement he made that this industry is the sixth largest in the country. It employs, directly and indirectly, 264,000 men. "About one-fortieth of the population of Great Britain depend upon fishing for a livelihood. I wish to appeal to my hon. Friends who represent the miners to help us, because we are very good customers to the mineowners, and therefore help to provide work for the miners. The coal consumed by our steam fishing vessels provides whole-time employment for 9,000 miners for every working day of the year. The deep-sea fishermen, on whose behalf I am speaking this evening, are responsible for 80 per cent. of the fish landed on the shores. The range of their operations is out in the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, Far North to Iceland, Faroe, North Cape into the White Sea, and then down to the South into the Bay of Biscay and as far as Morocco. They range over all these areas to bring food to the people of this country.
In 1925 the total of fish landed in England and Wales—this does not include Scotland—was 13,500,000 cwts., the value 2410 of which was £14,750,000. My own constituency of Grimsby were responsible for something like 25 per cent. of the total. I have worked out figures of the production per man, which show that every man employed in the industry earns £634 per head per year. That is taking the value of the fish landed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, all fishermen are not dissatisfied! It was £634 per head per year. Compare that with agriculture, which shows £254 per head! So we of the fishing industry claim that as regards the productivity per man we stand very high. In respect to the War work of the fishermen, I want to mention just this to the House, because I want the sympathy of the House with me in this question. Let me quote a gallant admiral, who, speaking on this point, said:Fisheries are the nursery of men inured to hardship and danger, bred to seamanlike qualities, resourceful, daring, self-reliant.That is true of the British fisherman as I know him. During the War period 3,000 steam trawlers directed by the Navy were engaged. Fifty thousand of our best men were drafted into the Navy. The older men and boys carried on the fishing during that War period amidst all the great dangers of mines and submarines to see that this country had a food supply. We lost 672 fishing vessels by submarines and mines and many gallant men. Many personal friends of my own laid down their lives for you in trying to bring these foodstuffs to the country.
What they are asking for is this: We are not asking for subsidies or anything of that sort. We do ask the Government that they should foster in every way possible this very valuable asset of the nation's industrial welfare. We want so far as we are concerned a strict adherence and recognition by all nationals of the three-mile limit. The difficulty in this matter which we have at the moment are with Russia and Norway. On this question what we ask for is fair-play countries. A very eminent international authority said:Freedom of the seas, if it means anything, means that each Government will secure for its own nationals freedom to pass on their lawful occasions in all waters outside territorial limits, with freedom to fish those waters.That is what we of the fishing industry claim. On this question I have been 2411 asked to submit a statement forwarded to me by the British Trawlers' Federation. It is a matter to which they and the fishermen attach great importance:The exclusive fishery limits claimed by various Governments and authorities have a very serious effect on the interests of the British trawling industry and the British nation. Norway claims exclusive fishery rights in all waters inside the limit of four miles measured from the outermost rocks or islands, including the large fjords around her coasts. This is contrary to general usage between other maritime nations, and His Majesty's Government should be urged to secure at the earliest practicable date an understanding with Norway providing for the exclusive fishery limits of that country being confined to the limits recognised by other nations, namely, within three miles of low water mark of her coasts, and inside bays or fjords between the line drawn between the point where a bay or fjord is not more than 10 miles wide. This condition applies equally to the claims of Ireland and also Scotland in the instances of Moray Firth and the Firth of Clyde. In fact, it is most essential that Great Britain should conform to the recognition of three-mile territorial limits for her own fishing industry, so that we can, with all greater success, insist on other nations imposing only similar restrictions.I hope the Minister has made a note of that, and I hope that in his reply he will refer to it. It has been shown by figures which have been quoted that 94 per cent. of the catch of fish landed in this country comes from what are known as international seas, and the preservation of the three miles' territorial limit is of vast importance to this country, and I hope the Government will carefully watch and safeguard the rights of British fishermen.
Another point to which I wish to call attention in the interests of deep sea-fishermen is the harbour dues and charges in Iceland. We submit that they are excessive, and I will give some recent examples of how they affect our people. The Hull trawler "Drypool," wishing to land a sick man—not to go into harbour, but going only inside a headland—had to pay for getting that man in, and taking him out, a sum equal to £20 in British money. Of that sum, 50s. was the doctor's charge. The Grimsby vessel "Abronias" was running short of yeast for bread making, and the skipper decided to call at the Westerman Isles to get a supply of baking powder to carry on till he had reached his home port, and because he went inside the harbour he had to pay a 2412 total sum of £14 19s. 5d., of which 18s. 4d. was for the baking powder, and the rest for harbour charges. Then there was the case of the "Dargle," a Grimsby boat, which had to land a man who was sick. Her bill came to £19 16s. 8d.
As I had been requested to raise this question, I thought I would find out how our charges compared with these. I wrote for the particulars, and this is what I am told. If a foreign fishing vessel goes into the River Humber for the purpose of putting ashore a member of the crew for medical or surgical treatment, I am informed that the only dues and charges which would be imposed are the shipping dues payable to the Humber Conservancy Board towards the cost of lighting and marking the river channel, amounting to from 1s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. per vessel per visit. No charge would be levied by the dock company, nor would there be any customs or sanitary clearances. A charge of 7s. 6d. to 20s. would be made by the tug employed in conveying the man from the fishing vessel to the dock, the charge varying according to the size of the tug engaged. If the fishing vessel came alongside the piers at either the fish dock or the royal dock basin, no charge would be levied by the dock company, and the cost of the tug would therefore be saved. I understand that the harbour dues imposed by the Norwegian Government are equally severe as those of Iceland. It may not sound very important to Members that a trawler should have to pay £15 for landing a man, but as this occurs on many occasions, and as our charges are so much lower, we feel that representations ought to be made to the Icelandic authorities on the point.
Again, we have a complaint as regards the Icelandic fishery laws, and here again I shall have to trouble the House to allow me to read the considered opinion of those who have gone carefully into the question and have asked me to bring it up:Whilst it is recognised that the Danish or Icelandic Governments have a right to make laws in the interests of their own nationals, we must protest against the harsh manner in which many of them are interpreted, particularly the laws requiring the unshackling and stowing away of trawling gear when the vessels enter territorial waters. In many instances it is practically impossible to comply with the law without endangering the life or limbs of the crew, owing to the nature of the weather. Further, it not infrequently 2413 occurs that when a vessel fishing outside territorial waters is shooting or hauling her gear, accidents arise which cause serious injury to members of the crew, necessitating immediate surgical attention, and vital time is lost in unshackling and stowing the gear before the vessel enters territorial waters to seek the medical aid so urgently desired. These remarks will also apply to Norway. British fishing vessels are not allowed to land their fish in Iceland except under special circumstances, but it is understood that modifications of the law covering this point in favour of the Norwegian fishing industry have been made. Under the Treaty with Denmark, Great Britain was to have treatment equal to that meted out to other nations.I am asking the Minister to take note of this and to see that the provisions of the Treaty are rightly upheld. We say that under that Treaty we have just as much right to land our catch in Iceland as the Norwegians if the concession be made to them. If there is a bar against all other nations we cannot complain, but as we have that agreement we feel that attention ought to be drawn to the matter.
Another subject which has been attracting a good deal of notice throughout the country during the last few weeks is the landing of fish from German trawlers in British ports. Whilst there is a great diversity of opinion amongst men in the ports themselves as to whether we ought to allow this fish to be landed or not, I feel it is my duty, as representing a port where they have had some little difficulty over the matter to put the case fairly and squarely before the House to-night. It has been said that what we want in this country is a strong British fishing fleet. As I have pointed out, and as was evidenced during the late War, it is well to remember that it was due to the Government's good fortune in being able to commandeer this invaluable, efficient, and easily adaptable auxiliary service that the sea trade routes round these islands, and in many other valuable places, were kept open and navigable, due to a courageous obstinacy and patience unsurpassed in war. But for this potent fact it is within the bounds of possibility, and in fact quite probable, according to many experts, that the nation might have been starved into submission. It is, therefore, the duty of this or any Government to encourage this industry to a state of high efficiency 2414 and progress, for on it depends, in a great measure, the food of the people. Everything that can reasonably he done to foster, safeguard and encourage its expansion and development both with regard to ships or its magnificent personnel is, apart from its advantage to the industry itself, and those trades—and they are many—dependent upon it, a benefit and an additional safeguard to the nation as a whole. Therefore, the British Trawlers Federation wish to state that, in their opinion, it is nothing else than a national misfortune that this industry should be faced with an invasion of German trawlers manned by crews whose rates of pay are less than half those paid to British fishermen. Against such a disparity of costs there are only two alternatives; one is to let it continue when the fishing companies and fleets will be faced with losses due to the extra running costs which will most surely set up a shrinkage in place of the necessary expansion or the crews will have to accept a reduction in their wages bringing them below the recognised standard of living in this country, which is unthinkable.
My second point is that the Government should see that this unfair competition is not permitted unless the wages paid by the foreign companies are made the same as those paid by British companies. If this were done, the fishing industry would be satisfied, because they would realise that they were having fair competition if the German owners were paying the same rates of wages. Those engaged in the fishing industry in this country say that they are not afraid of competition, but they cannot compete against sweated labour. I want to point out to the Minister of Agriculture that as regards the landing of German fish there is a section of the trade which rather welcomes such fish into the market. You have the men who are engaged in the salting of cod for export trade, some of our fish curers and the fish dock labourers, and they all welcome it because it means additional employment for them. I submit that it would be well if the industry could come to some reasonable agreement on this very vexed question. As the representative of this industry, I feel it is my duty to represent the trade as a whole, and I should find my task very much easier if 2415 these people could make up their mind exactly what they want.
I want to say a word or two about the provision of an exploration vessel which I mentioned last year, and on that occasion we got a sort of half promise that we were going to get such a vessel. What the industry wants to-day is a vessel equipped for exploration work. We are spending now £27,625 a year on research work, and that work undoubtedly has been of the greatest value to the trade up to a point, but the practical men in the trade now say that that work has served its purpose and what we need most now is an exploration vessel that can look out for new fishing grounds for our men to carry on their vocation. At present our fishermen have to go further and further afield to catch the fish, and it is very difficult for the private owners of vessels to provide any expedition for exploration work, and we feel that it is the duty of the Government to step in.
We do not want any subsidies, but we want a little assistance. Last year I put a proposition before the Minister in which I stated that certain owners in Grimsby were prepared to put their ships at the disposal of the Ministry, including crews and gear, provided the Ministry would put on board a scientific officer and guarantee them against any loss. It would not have amounted to more than a few hundred pounds, and it might have resulted in the discovery of new fishing grounds, which would have been of great value to the industry and would have constituted a great asset to the nation. I hope the Minister will have something to say on that point when he replies.
There is another matter I wish to bring forward, and it is that I think we should be allowed to imitate Scotland and have a Central Fishery Board. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I want us to do something on the same lines as the Scottish Fishery Board. In England and Wales we are ruled by 12 district committees, who work independently of each other, and we feel that the system in Scotland is the better way, because it provides a central authority. The Royal Commission Report of some years ago recommended:That a central authority should be appointed to supervise and control the 2416 fisheries of Britain if not that of the United Kingdom.The industry are asking for direct representation by a Parliamentary Secretary being appointed to assist the Minister of Agriculture in this particular work of the fishing industry. We feel that the great Department of Agriculture with which the Minister has to deal is quite sufficient for him to deal with, and there is room and scope for a Parliamentary Secretary to devote his whole time to the fishing industry. Of course, we recognise the good work which has been done by former Ministers of Agriculture, and I wish to pay a special tribute to the late Minister of Agriculture, who took a great interest in the fishing industry. I also wish to say that, although the present holder of the office has only held it a very short time, he has already shown that he takes a great interest in the fishing industry. But even a Minister finds that there are only 24 hours in a day, and he must have some little time for sleep, and it is our opinion that there is more work in his Department than one man can manage, and there should be another appointed to help him to deal with the fishing industry.
There is another suggestion which I think is one of real value to the fishing industry, and it is that there should be an advertising campaign to convince the people that it is in their best interests to "eat more fish." We want a campaign on the same lines as the "eat more fruit" campaign. On this point I would like to quote the opinion of Sir James Crichton-Browne, who says:The harvest of the sea not less than that of the land is wholesome food for all, and cheap and sustaining food for those who have to practise economy. It cannot be too strongly insisted on that, for working people of all classes—those who work with their heads, as well as those who work with their hands—fish is an economical source of the energy necessary to enable them to carry on their work, and that for children and young persons it furnishes the very stuff that is needed to enable them to grow healthy and strong.We are going to start that "eat more fish" campaign right now in the House. Another question I have been asked to mention is that, as far as the catching side of the industry is concerned, they would welcome an inquiry by the Food Council. Many letters have appeared in the Press, and much talk has been indulged in about the price of fish, but 2417 from the catching side we wish to make it perfectly plain that we do not fear any inquiry into the matter, and we should be glad to have it taken up.
In conclusion, I should like to say that I trust we shall hear from the Minister something hopeful to-night as to the way in which he can help us, for the Government can, if they will, without the expenditure of a great deal of money, assist in fostering the industry. We can point to other countries, like France, Germany, Denmark and Holland, which do render financial assistance to their fishing industries, in some cases by way of loans, bonuses and definite grants, and, in some cases, by tariffs on the fish that comes in from other countries. We do not go so far as to ask for any of these things that are given in these foreign -countries, but we do ask that these little things which we have pointed out, and which will be pointed out by others in the course of this Debate, should receive the close attention of the Minister and that the Government should do all that they possibly can to help to foster this great industry in the interests of the British Navy and in the interests of the supply of good, wholesome food for the people of this country.
§ Mr. NOEL BUXTON
We on this side should not, perhaps, have ventured to pass implied strictures on quite so many Departments as the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved this Motion has suggested, but, taking it altogether, we think his Motion is excellent, as its object is one which we enthusiastically support. I do not know that there is really very much material for party warfare in the subject of our fisheries, but what the subject lacks in material for the game it makes up in romance and in the pleasure it gives to all of us, or, at any rate, I hope to most of us, to think about fishing or fish in any form. Speaking for myself, few Debates give me more pleasure than those in which I have taken part on this subject, for we are really dealing with a neglected subject, but one that is of great importance. We on these benches view the matter in the same manner in which we view agriculture. We are enthusiastic for research and for the application of knowledge in any way that is possible; we are for the utmost possible utilisation of national resources—and in this case that is not hampered, fortunately, by 2418 quite so many difficulties as in the case of agriculture; and, thirdly, we want to apply to those who are engaged in the industry the highest possible standard of life.
This Motion long as it is, does not, in my opinion, cover the ground. There are some other reforms and some other points which I should like to urge, and I will come in a minute to two of them which I think are of prime importance. One is in regard to marketing, and the other is not mentioned specifically in the Motion, but is, in my judgment, of great importance, and that is the matter of our fresh-water fisheries, and the enormous opportunities for recreation and pleasure which our working classes lose now by the great neglect of the use of our fresh-water rivers for angling. It may be said on the other side that we Labour people have been in office—why did not we do these things? I should like to say at once that, in the short time we had, we did contribute to the marketing problem, and the statistics show what happened in the great jump in the export of fish to Russia in 1924. But there is another matter, in regard to prices, upon which I want to dwell. We are very much in want of more facts on the subject of the fish market, and I hope the Minister will agree with me that the methods applied to the question of food prices by the Linlithgow Committee might very well be applied to the fish market. There is a very excessive spread in the price of fish, and we do not know all the conditions which might be met by action.
With regard to the fresh-water fisheries, if I am asked what I would have done had I had a majority such as the right hon. Gentleman has to carry out what he wants, I would like to see powers for public bodies to acquire angling rights on convenient rivers, so as to give to the working classes, to the masses of the people, a better chance of recreating themselves. I do not know whether even my Liberal friends would have helped us to put any measures of this kind into force, but certainly we should have failed to carry anything of that kind even if we had had the time. When we view this general question of fisheries, comparing it with our view of agriculture, I am always reminded of Sir Horace Plunkett's classification of the three aspects into which the question might be 2419 divided, namely, better production, better marketing—better business, as he calls it—and better living. To take, first of all, the question of production, the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) has rightly pointed to the very great magnitude of the interests involved, and has dealt with research and regulation.
The really important thing in the Fisheries Department is research. Its main pre-occupation is with questions of that kind. It is said that happy is the country which has no history, and happy is the Department which is not constantly the subject of contentious debate. But, though it may be happy for the Fisheries Department to pursue research about which there is no dispute, we should be a great deal happier if we knew more about that research, and I hope the Minister will take the opportunity of telling the House some of the entrancing facts which are brought to the knowledge of the Fisheries Research Department. I strongly recommend a visit to those places where the Department carries on research. To take my own Division alone, some extraordinarily interesting things have quite lately been discovered in regard to the question whether fisheries are injured by terns, and, again, how they can be saved from the depredations of seals. But the Minister has access to a great deal more information than I have, and, if he is willing to tell us something about these matters, his speech will be the most interesting that I have heard from the Government Bench.
Regulation is the other side of research. Research leads to regulation, and what is of vital importance is that, in the measures recommended by the Council for the Exploration of the Sea, we as a country should not be behind, but in front, and I hope the Minister will be able to tell us how we are prepared to support the proposal, although Members may be inclined to scoff at it, for the closing of fishing grounds, which is really of vital importance for the improvement of the deep sea fisheries. Anyhow, we are all for the utilisation of knowledge of that kind. An illustration of the extraordinarily interesting things which are found in connection with the business of fisheries regulation is the use of aero- 2420 planes, for example, to spot shoals of herrings, and the question how far the Navy is used for helping in this economic matter is one of great interest, upon which the Minister might find time to dwell. The unsatisfactory side of production is that the quantity produced is, I believe, not equal now to the quantity produced pre-War, and yet at the same time you have resources where, if the supply is not inexhaustible, at least the law of diminishing returns applies in a very slight degree compared with agriculture. At any rate any increased demand which the country is likely to make will be readily met by the fishing industry and full advantage can be taken of any market.
We come now to the marketing side. I remember saying in a Debate we had two-years ago that we should look in that matter to the double operation of cooperative societies and municipal trading to remove some of the very great losses that undoubtedly occur in marketing. It cannot be satisfactory that there should be, to the extent there is now the use of fish for manure, and it can hardly be an economic thing in any degree that fish should be positively dumped into the sea as it largely is now. This is where cooperative or municipal marketing might come in, but if we cannot expect much help in that direction now, is there not something that might be done for making our existing markets on their present lines more efficient than they are? I paid a visit to Billingsgate the other day and, besides picking up some additions to my vocabulary, I observed the extraordinary handicap that exists there in the congested condition of that market.
The various stages of bringing the fish, getting the stacks of boxes away, and transferring the fish to the fishmongers' carts are hampered by the fact that there is no means of driving the fish direct from the market to the fishmongers, and you have that army of fish porters carrying fish up a steep hill in a dense crowd. A policeman to whom I talked told me the congestion was such that when he was put on the main point in Lower Thames Street, after having been there a short time, the worry was such that he lost a stone in weight. This is not, of course, the direct business of the Department, but can it not use its powers to make suggestions to the bodies in control of the great fish markets, and when 2421 you have got to the point where the fish brought to that market is only to a fractional extent brought by water, and the vast bulk of it is brought from the North by train, there may be very great economies possible?
There is the deplorable fact, already alluded to by the hon. Member for Grimsby, of the very deficient consumption of fish in this country. That is partly a matter of English methods of cooking. If the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department were willing, he could tell us some very interesting things on that point, but it is seriously true that there ought to be on a large scale an "Eat-more-fish" campaign, and I do not see why the Ministry of Health should not take some part in directing the attention of the public to that. It is quite as important as in the case of the marketing of fruit, and it would be a great national economy besides. On these things I trust he will use what powers he has, and it is perfectly correct, as the Mover said, that the railways have a great deal to improve in their treatment of fish supplies. But in the main, I think, the definite proposal to the Minister to think over the appointment of a Linlithgow Committee to deal with the whole question of marketing might produce great results.
In regard to the foreign trade, I think it amounted to over £8,000,000 last year. The German trade, happily, is now actually more than pre-War, but the greatest buyers, take them for their size, are the Baltic States and Russia. The Baltic trade was 41 per cent. of our total trade. Hon. Members on the other side raise a laugh when the question of Russia and Russian trade is brought forward, but it is a perfectly serious point. The trade with Russia jumped prodigiously in 1924, and not only so, but the price the Russians paid was an extraordinarily high price. It was as 18s. 1d. to a general average of 15s. 11d., and the Russian trade—I do not mean the Baltic States, but Russia strictly—was multiplied more times than I can now calculate in one year, and constantly you come on passages in the Ministry's Report where the vast possibilities of the Russian trade is dwelt upon. There is no gain-saying that. In 1924 there was a general expectation in Russia that trade was going to be put on a normal footing with us, 2422 and a commercial treaty was signed. The fishery interest went out of their way to declare that it was an extraordinarily beneficial arrangement for them. The White Sea Agreement was one that they were extremely anxious to see carried out, and it was a severe blow to our fishery trade that it was not realised. The whole treaty was rejected. That is a point that cannot be separated from the general question of fishery exports. Why is the Government not ready to cultivate trade with Russia in this very definite opening? Why are there not credits granted for export to Russia? We are depriving our own people of a means of livelihood which might be considerable, and it is a test question for Conservative advocates of fishery interests, why are they opposed to taking advantage of a potential market which they might be creating for the benefit of our people?
In the third sphere, what Sir Horace Plunket calls "better living," there is the question of the workers in the fleets, the dangerous life they lead, and the very considerable number of casualties, and regulations for their safety and comfort are very important indeed. The inshore fisheries, however, are more closely a matter for the Minister of Fisheries. I hope he is giving his attention to the creation of harbour boards in inshore fishing places, such as, for instance, I think has been, or is going to be, done in the case of Hope Cove in Devonshire. That kind of thing is really very important because, as I know on the Norfolk coast, the fishermen are very much hampered by inability to get equipped. It needs much co-operation to put up shelters without any organisation and means of joint expenditure. There is a great deal that might be done, for instance, now that motors are coming in in the inshore fishermen's boats, by way of supplying windlasses, but, as I know, in some cases it is a very difficult thing to arrange unless some sort of authority can be set up or some sort of co-operative society established which enables them to get the windlasses. The number of men concerned in these things is very large. You have, as we have heard, a vast number of men in the industry or allied to it.
I want to refer, in conclusion, to another matter affecting a vast number of people, to which I briefly alluded at the 2423 beginning. The Minister is responsible, not only for sea fisheries, but for fresh water fisheries, and in 1923 an Act was passed which was intended to make a beginning in bringing our freshwater fishery potentialities into use. The recreation, health and happiness of the people are involved to a vast extent. I suppose no country with industry developed as ours is would have allowed its rivers to get ruined to the extent that ours are. I should like to call the attention of the House to the fact that possibly 500,000 men are directly interested in the provision of angling facilities; indeed, I have heard it computed that 600,000 men are actually members of angling societies. There are many of us who are enthusiastic fishers, but who do not belong to any society. Here you have a matter affecting the provision of recreation for a vast number of people who cannot afford an expensive recreation of any kind. In other countries, where the streams for the most part belong to some public authority, it is very easy to get a ticket and a day's fishing for a trivial expense. Here it is very rare for the man with humble means to be able to get any fishing at all. One may prophesy that it will not be many decades and certainly not many generations before shooting and hunting are looked back on as interesting memories, as we look back on the sports which our grandfathers thought quite essential and permanent, like cockfighting, but I rather think that angling is on a different footing, and is to vast numbers of people a most valuable recreation. Anyhow I would like to call attention to what is said on the cleansing of our rivers in the Report made to the Minister last year. The Report runs:This problem concerns everybody who has the general well-being of the community at heart, and the promotion of the healthy sport of angling is well worthy of support. But, our rivers ought to be something more than mere reservoirs of fish or sources of water supply. Clean rivers and streams are an inspiration not only to those who dwell on their banks and seek recreation in boating and bathing, but also to dwellers in distant towns who may be attracted to the more genial surroundings afforded by sights and scenes of beauty.Those are very true words which cannot be improved on, and I hope that the Minister will use his powers to assist in the creation of fishery boards and the encouragement of the work of anti- 2424 pollution authorities, and will do all he can to give us cleaner rivers, and so confer a benefit on vast numbers of our people.
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the second word "the," and to add instead thereof the wordswhole Government should combine to develop the ancient and important industry of fishing.To make the Motion perfectly clear, I think it would be far simpler if a great many of the words included in it, as moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay (Commander Williams), were omitted, and if it read in the way it would read if my Amendment were accepted. In that case it would read:In the opinion of this House the whole Government should combine to develop the ancient and important industry of fishing.I have listened with great interest to the remarks made by the right hon. Member the late Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and I feel certain he will agree with me that perhaps it might have been better if this Motion had been put down in a somewhat simpler manner and in the form in which it would read if my Amendment were accepted, because I think he said it might have been better if less strictures were passed on the various Government Departments.
I understood him to say the less the better. I am not going to follow him into the question of fresh water fishing, and I do not propose to talk about trawlers. I am not qualified to talk on that subject. With regard, however, to the Motion moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay, I would like him first of all clearly to understand that it is in no spirit of animosity that I move this Amendment. I have had very cordial relations with the hon. and gallant Member for a great many years, and I can assure him—and the House will understand it—that there is no spirit of animosity involved, for the Division for which he sits is bounded on one side by the sea and is bounded on the other side entirely by the Division which I have the honour to represent. There 2425 is one thing mentioned here, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should do more to encourage efficient harbours. We have heard of one particular instance, the creation of such a harbour at Hope Cove, and various Ministers of the Crown are taking very great interest in these harbours and are playing their part in assisting the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in that perhaps most difficult task of looking after fisheries which, in the minds of most people, is a subsidiary part of his task as Minister of Agriculture. I think, perhaps, if we mentioned no names of any Minister, either of Education or anybody else, we might feel we had omitted none. If we omitted the whole lot we shall feel that, in the Amendment I am moving, the whole lot are included, and for that reason I move the Amendment in this form.
There is a matter which is of a rather more domestic nature, as far as I am concerned, because there are a great many people included in that industry in the constituency I have the honour to represent, namely, the inshore fishermen, the longshore fishermen and the people who carry on crab-pot fishing. In my constituency there is a place, namely Start Bay, and I do not think it is the only place of that sort along the coast of this country. There are large numbers of men and women there who go in for the industry of crab-pot fishing and live entirely and exclusively by that sort of fishing. They have neither the means nor the inclination to go far out to sea and trawl, or to go in for the other kinds of fishing. These people are very seldom mentioned in a Debate of this kind. There are a very large number of these people along the coasts of Devonshire and Cornwall, and there must be an equally large number around the other coasts. As a general rule, when the Minister is speaking on fishing, these people escape notice. It appears to be the general idea that fishing is an industry engaged in by people who go to sea with steam or motor trawlers and that people who go in for luxury fish, such as the crab or the lobster, are neglected. I have a large number of these people in my constituency, and they feel that, occasionally, they are apt to be neglected by the Minister.
It has been said that Start Bay is a fish nursery. I do not argue whether 2426 that is so or not. Start Bay was entirely closed to trawlers at one time, but subsequently one half, the northern half, was opened to trawlers, who were only allowed into it with permits, provided they left the southern half entirely alone. This was done for the reason that there were crab pots there, and that part of the bay was used as a fish nursery. Unfortunately, the line of demarcation between the northern and southern part of the bay has been frequently crossed by trawlers and, as a result, a very large number of fishermen and fisher-women have lost considerable sums of money and an enormous number of crab-pots. From December, 1924, to March, 1925, 85 crab-pots were lost by seven men in my constituency, and that during fine weather. As each crab-pot costs about 25s., this means a very considerable loss. One man lost all the crab-pots he had, and emigrated. Another also lost all his crab-pots, and his friends raised a subcription to put him on his feet again, and I believe that in a small way he is fishing now.
I do not say that these losses are entirely due to trawling. There are a large number of trawlers which pass up and down the coast into Start Bay to trawl for fish, and a great many crab-pots are lost in this way. Storms also account for many crab-pots. There are also a great number of yachts which cruise up and down the coast, and destroy crab-pots. Other ships also destroy crab-pots. It is, however, fair to say that 90 per cent. of the crab-pot losses are due to the depredations of the trawlers. The majority of the trawlers from the constituency represented by the hon. Member for Torquay are very averse to poaching expeditions in the southern parts of Start Bay, but a few of the trawler people are not quite so considerate.
I hope the hon. and gallant Member will realise that most of these trawlers are foreigners, but they are lucky enough not to be caught. I am not sure that some of the others do not come from north of the Tweed.
I do not blame my hon. Friend's constituents entirely for these losses. I do not say that the whole of the 90 per cent. of the losses are caused by trawlers from Torquay. 2427 The trawlers may come from north of the Tweed and elsewhere. If the Minister would clear some of the fishing beds which exist further out in the Channel and would destroy some of the wrecks which exist on these fishing banks, he would very considerably help the trawlers to earn a living by fishing these legitimate banks, and so prevent some of them from poaching in a place which is acknowledged by a great many people to be a fish nursery. It may be argued that it is impossible to do this, but I would urge him to do it if he possibly can, and to see that these banks which are known to be full of fish are cleared, so that the trawlers can go there and bring back a catch which will be of marketable value. If he would clear or mark these banks in some way so that the obstructions which now exist there should no longer destroy the trawls when they are put down, it would be very advantageous.
It is not generally known why these wrecks are there. During the War the Admiralty issued orders that all ships should hug the coast along that particular part. I think I am correct in saying that within 10 miles of Start Point there are no fewer than 170 wrecks just below the sea. This means a very difficult task for people who go there from all parts of the world to trawl. If the Resolution were curtailed as I suggest, it would be much better than to put upon the records something which does not coincide with our usual practice. It is not usual to pass strictures on any particular Minister or any body of Ministers. If my Amendment were accepted, it would avoid that, whilst the effect would be practically the same.
§ Mr. HAWKE
I beg to second the Amendment.
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member for Torquay (Commander Williams) that I do so in no hostile spirit to his Motion. There is much in his Motion that is useful, and perhaps necessary. I have had the opportunity of placing before two Government Departments one subject of interest to fishermen, namely, the imposition of the pilchard tax by the Italians on imported pilchards. I put that question to the Board of Trade, and I was passed on to the Foreign Office, so 2428 far without result. I have also had the opportunity of taking a fishing question to the Ministry of Health. Therefore, I am in sympathy with the Motion. My reason for seconding the Amendment is that the Motion, carefully worded, though it is, is apt to emphasise the necessity for particular remedies by Departments, when I think we are all agreed that this industry is so important and so vital to the whole nation that it becomes a question for the Government in general rather than a particular Department or Departments. For that reason I am glad to second the Amendment. I know there are many Members some of whom, unlike myself, did not have an opportunity of speaking on this subject last year, who desire to speak to-night, and because of this, and also because I am much more interested in hearing what the Minister may have to say on the matter this evening than in any observations I may make myself, I propose to impose upon myself the self-denying ordinance of making but very few observations.
There are, however, one or two things I should like to say. We have travelled over many things to-night. We have had proposals for the institution of cookery classes, proposals for many other kinds of things, and I do not intend to follow hon. Members into these interesting objects of research. I represent men to whom the thought that each one of them represented £634 would be something more than a surprise. I have had no opportunity of making any calculation, but the money which most of the men in the extreme West of England expect to get is far less than £634. They are poor men, but they are capitalists. Every one of them who has a boat is a capitalist; every man who has a net is a capitalist; a fish hook is capital. But although they are capitalists they are in very poor circumstances, and if it were not for their frugality and sobriety I doubt how many of them could live. Some years ago—and this is what I want to say—the industry in that part of the world was in a very bad way, and it was rescued, some people think was saved from destruction, by the fact that the Government came forward with assistance in the form of a grant to supply the boats with motors.
I want to remind the Minister that the money advanced years ago to these men 2429 has been practically returned in full, and as the assistance to fishermen must directly or indirectly be on the basis of money I suggest to the Minister that if it is the fact that the money loaned years ago has been returned in full, then it is a risk he might take again where it is necessary to make advances in the future. The boats which were then provided with motors have been working ever since on the seas. But motors will wear out, boats will wear out, and even men will wear out. There are young men coming along who, if we want to keep them going to sea, must be supplied with the wherewithal to do so. If they can be relied upon, having had a grant once, to earn the money to repay it, as well as provide for themselves, the Minister will be doing something to assist in creating the personnel of our Navy and the protection of our food supply. I hope he will consider whether he cannot have some inquiry into the need for such assistance to these men. I would remind him that this inquiry, I will not say was promised, but was suggested before this Parliament was elected. His predecessor in Office a year ago promised nothing in regard to this matter but to consider it. As we had many promises a year ago—I am quite sure they were intended to be carried out—I hope we may have some of them repeated this evening, and that some of them at least will reach fruition.
§ Mr. ROSE
I desire to give a somewhat general and qualified benediction on behalf of the majority of my colleagues on these benches to the very excellent and somewhat ambitious Motion now before the House. I noticed to-day at Victoria Station one of the new omnibuses—a two-decker. It did not strike me as being particularly secure. This Motion is a ten-decker, and I feel sure it has not been designed on the "safety first" principle. But after all, what does endear it to most of us on these benches is that it smacks a little of collectivism. It is not quite so Socialistic as most of the proposals with which we are familiar, particularly in the Socialist party, but still it has the flavour, and perhaps that is why we like it. I am disposed to think that boiled down it comes to this: It is a suggestion that "Government Gus" and "Whitehall Willy" shall operate together for the common benefit, instead of barking each other's shins in a 2430 mad and insensate struggle for departmental priority. So far it seems to me to be good, but there are some things about it that are not quite so good.
A suggestion was made by the Seconder of the Motion, the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) that what is wanted is another particular and specialised Ministry for looking after fishery, just like we have in Scotland. If you are going to reform the fishing industry at all the first thing you have to do is to abolish the Scottish Fishery Board, because it is about the least useful of all the many Ministries. What strikes me is this, that both the Proposer and Seconder of the Motion, and indeed the Proposer and Seconder of the Amendment, have overlooked the fact that the first difficulty is inherent in the industry itself. You can divide the fishing industry into at least six sections, every one of which is in open hostility against the other five. There are the trawl owners, the trawl fishermen, and the line fishermen—and I should like to clear away from the minds of hon. and right hon. Members what seems to them a difficulty. Line fishing is passing entirely away. In my own Division—I do not care to quote the parish pump at all, this is only an illustration—in Aberdeen, at a place called Footdee, colloquially known as Fittie, there used to be a colony of line fishermen. I do not believe there are half-a-dozen there now. If there are, they have ceased to be line fishermen. That sounds paradoxical. The line fishermen almost all round the coast have bought motor boats and go out with seine nets, which are far more destructive.
§ Mr. ROSE
There are sea-going boats, steamboats that go out with lines and have thousands of lines over. It is the ordinary inshore line-fisherman about whom I am talking, the man who has made all the dust about keeping the Moray Firth closed against our own fishermen while it is thrown open to foreigners—in their own interests and that of no others. A great deal too much importance is attached to the line-fishing industry. Apart from these there is the shore gang, the fish curers and the salesmen, and then the transport. I am almost tempted to add a seventh, the British public; but the British public is 2431 always a negligible factor, so we will not bother with it. I would like to give an illustration. About two years ago there was a great deal of public concern and disturbance in reference to the landing of German catches in Aberdeen. It led up to a sort of lock-out or strike of skippers and mates, who forced all their subordinates out of work. I was asked to take up some attitude in that matter, and I inquired about it. I found that the whole industry in Aberdeen was just about split in half. The shore gang wanted the German trawlers encouraged, but the sea-going gang wanted them to be prohibited. So I said, "I am going to have nothing to do with it. Settle this business amongst yourselves, and I will then talk with you." They were so blindly furious about that that they actually mistook me for a certain Noble Lord, and confounded my identity with that of the Marquis of Aberdeen.
You can get all the Government Departments that you like on this business, but you will find that the animosity and the jealousies inside the industry itself will negative and sterilise any efforts that any Government can make. We have heard something about research. If you are going to have research, I do not think that you ought to invest the authority for making it in Whitehall. There are many things in the fishing industry that can be cured. If employers are enlightened they will realise that the best way to increase production is to cheapen labour, and if they know anything at all they will know that there is only one way to cheapen labour, and that is by raising wages. The conditions under which fishermen live in most of our fishing ports are not merely a reproach to their employers, but a heavy reproach to the whole system under which we are living to-day. As far as we are concerned here, we believe that the fishing industry can take care of itself better than any Government Department can.
Another side of the question is this: We hear a lot of talk about the conservation of certain fishes and fishing places. I believe there is an international "confab" going on now about the projected or suggested closure of certain areas in the North Sea in order to conserve the growth and development of plaice. It is like all other international "confabs." A number of 2432 people go there, not to see what they can do in the common interest, but to see how much they can "pinch" off anyone else. One of the suggestions made—I do not know whether our lot or the German lot or the Dutch lot or which of them made it, but I know it has been previously made—is to transport some millions of young plaice and dump them on the Dogger Bank. I do not know how it is to be done. I do not know whether every little plaice is to have a label put on it, or whether every one is to be put on its honour that it will not leave if it cannot find little crabs to eat. The idea of interfering with nature in the economy of the sea is the silliest thing that ever entered into the mind of man. Nature does all this, and always will. May I quote an opinion? It is the opinion of one of the greatest scientists of our time, Professor Macintosh. He says:How different it is with the food fishes, with their pelagic (floating) eggs disseminated broadcast throughout the sea, their swarms of more or less invisible young, and the marvellous changes many undergo to maturity! Their whole life-history points to an endurance which all the efforts of man fail to shatter.If you were to put out a million trawlers, trawling night and day for a year, they would not catch as many fish as other fishes devour in a quarter of an hour. If it were not so fish crushes would be frequent. Sturgeon crushes and salmon crushes have been known. Indeed, there is in the history of our own country the record of a herring crush on the coast of Fifeshire last century. The herrings were so plentiful and so massed together that they could not turn with the tide and were left on the shore, tons and tons of them. That being so, what in the world is the use of talking about trawling Regulations? Trawling has come to stay. It is machine fishing, and we are living in a machine-ruled age. All the trawlers that ever steamed will not make one single appreciable scrap of difference on the face of nature. I am all for reform, but the reform which I advocate is the freeing of the trawler from restrictions. I do not care whether or not they come inside the three-mile limit. As far as trawling is concerned they will do no harm. I believe there are military reasons against it, but there is no industrial reason and no social reason why 2433 they should not be allowed to trawl anywhere. I would agree with the policy of letting everybody and anybody fish where they liked, when they liked and how they liked. You can trust to nature that no harm will be done to the population of the sea. There will be no shortage, and there never can be any shortage in the yield of fish.
We like this Resolution sufficiently well not to oppose it, and the Amendment seems to me to mean exactly the same thing as the Resolution. I do not think the terminology either of the Motion or the Amendment matters so much as the sense which lies within them both. We want to have something done for the fishing industry. We are particularly concerned—at least I am—with the poor people who work in it. I believe their difficulties could be very largely solved without any Government interference at all. I think their employers could do a great deal for them if they liked, but there seems to be an idea all round that the man who receives very low wages is a cheap man. It is not always so, and I am ready to endorse what hon. Members have said in reference to the character and value of the service which the fishermen of this country render. I know something of them, and I am quite disposed to add my testimony to every good thing that can be said about them. The mere expression of a pious opinion is not all that is necessary, and I join with hon. Members who have already spoken in asking the Minister to put some of these suggestions into practice, or if he cannot do so, to tell us what practical line the Government are likely to adopt to help us out of the present difficulty.
I know some of the suggestions which have been made are impossible, and I am glad to think some of them are impossible, but on the other hand, there is behind this Resolution and behind the Amendment also, the suggestion at least that an important industry can be helped by Government interference and aid, and that being so, I hope this Debate will lead to something more than a mere expression of opinion in this House to-night, something more than a hollow endorsement of what is more or less a sentiment. The sentiment of the Resolution however does the Mover and Seconder infinite credit, and I propose, as I think all my colleagues do, to give it the most sincere support.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
I do not agree with all the last speaker has said, particularly with regard to inshore trawling, but there is a good deal of truth in many of his remarks. With one thing which he said I cordially agree, and that is as regards the difference between the Motion and the Amendment. With all due respect, the difference seems to be that between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The object of both is to ask the Government to concentrate attention on this ancient and important industry. It is, after all, the most ancient of all our industries. The old British lake dwellers were the first fishers in this country, and with their coracles and imperfect methods, they started an industry which has developed into one of enormous importance. It has been rightly called the fifth largest industry of this country, and it may surprise hon. Members to know that the value of the fish landed in Great Britain is over £20,000,000 a year. A huge fleet and a large army of men are engaged directly in the fishing, and reference has already been made to the number of side industries attached to fishing, such as that of coopers and so forth. There is no doubt this industry has not in the past, and is not to-day receiving the attention which it deserves. Therefore, we welcome an opportunity such as comes but infrequently, of drawing the attention of the House and the public to the importance of this industry to the nation.
There is one point to which I desire to make special reference. At the present moment, when there is a hunt for economies in all directions, I urge on the Government that their desire for economy should not lead them to circumscribe the activities of the Development Commission. That Commission has done a good deal—thought I think it might have done a good deal more—to assist in improving our fishing harbours. We know in Scotland how great is the need for improving many of our harbours. A very small amount was spent last year in this direction. I find that the sum spent last year in improving harbours was £3,190 by way of grant, and £6,404 by way of loan. I am aware there are various schemes under consideration which involve the expenditure of large sums, and I earnestly hope that the Government, in their desire for economy, will not be led into, what I and 2435 many others regard as a false economy in cutting down the grants and loans made for improving fishing harbours. In my constituency there are two harbours of considerable importance concerning which schemes are at present before the Commission. The accommodation is inadequate and there is a great loss of fishing time as a result, as well as considerable damage to boats in the landing of the fish. Any attempt to economise in that direction would be a false economy indeed.
A reference has been made to the importance of finding new markets. I do not wish to go into that at length now, but I would like to refer to our old markets, and to ask the Government whether it would not be possible to enter into negotiations with some of the Baltic States to see if they cannot reduce the duties placed upon our herrings. The duties in Finland amount to something like 45s. a barrel, in Poland to 12s. a barrel, and in the Soviet Union they are rather less, about 9s. 6d. We all know that the herrings exported to Russia and the Baltic States are the food of the poor people, and the food of the poorest of the poor, and even a small duty placed on the import of herrings into those States must act very detrimentally on the amount consumed. Therefore, I would ask the Government whether they cannot direct their attention to endeavouring to get those duties reduced.
I should like to say a word with regard to Russia, and I am very sorry to have to refer to it again. It has only been slightly mentioned to-night, but I think it is my duty to do so. Why is it that the people who are particularly concerned in the herring industry are insistent in their demands for efforts to be made to open up the Russian market? They are the people who, we presume, understand their own business best. Every fishing port in Scotland, and every association connected with the herring industry, is asking the Government to direct their attention to this special object. It has been said that the Russian market is overstocked by the purchase of the 1924 catch. With reference to that, I would just like to point out what the figures are for the last three years as compared with the last three pre-War years, that is, taking pre- 2436 War Russia and post-War Russia with the Baltic States, so as to make the figures comparable.
The exports from Great Britain in 1913 were 3,566,000 cwts., and in 1925, 1,638,000 cwts. From Scotland the difference is even greater than from Great Britain as a whole. From Scotland, in 1913, 619,000 barrels were exported to Russia, and in 1925 only 177,000 barrels. If you take the average over the three years 1911–13, there were exported from Great Britain 3,284,000 cwts. on an average, and in 1923ߝ25 an average of 2,182,000 cwts.; in other words, the present export is only two-thirds of the pre-War export, and it is that lost third that we are so anxious to recover, if possible. I am not prepared to say that the Government can do a great deal, but I think they can do something, and anything that they can do I think they ought to do. One thing which I can recommend that they should do is this, and that is that they should adopt a different attitude with regard to Russian trade from that which they have adopted in the past. The attitude which they have adopted in the past can only hinder, and not help, and I would earnestly ask the Government that they should alter that attitude into one that will lead eventually, I hope, to more amicable relations and to better trade relations following on that.
Finally, I wish to say a word or two with regard to illegal trawling. I would like to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, who, I am afraid, is not here, though I see the Under-Secretary in his place, if anything is being done to give effect to the recommendations of Lord Mackenzie's Committee, which made a very close investigation of the question and a very valuable set of recommendations. The late Labour Government took the first step by improving the boats and the policing of the inshore waters, and endeavoured to stop the depredations of the trawlers. I cannot agree for a moment with the remarks of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Rose), who said that inshore trawling did not do any damage. I am afraid we have only too much evidence of the damage that inshore trawling has done, for you get trawlers trawling over the ground over and over again, and they not only catch the immature fish, but destroy the breeding grounds. It is a very much 2437 wider question than simply taking away the livelihood of the fishermen who happen to be living on the spot.
I would render every assistance that I can to the cry that has been started, and, I hope, will be taken up and re-echoed throughout the country—"Eat more fish." But before the country as a whole can eat more fish, fish must be cheaper, and I would like to emphasise the remarks that fell from the late Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries as to the importance of the Linlithgow Committee extending their inquiry in that direction, and the desirability that exists for improving the transport of the fish from the sea to the consumer. When we realise how small an amount the fisherman receives for his fish, and what a large sum the consumer has to pay for the same fish, we all of us feel that there is something wrong. When you see profits or differences of 300, 400 or 500 per cent., there is obviously something wrong, and that is the direction in which the Government might exercise their energies with very great benefit to the industry, I am sure.
The late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain coined a phrase which has had very great vogue. He said he was teaching the country to "think imperially." Mr. Joseph Chamberlain did lead the country to think imperially in a way it had never thought before, but I am afraid that nowadays sometimes we are a bit inclined to overdo it when we see the Government prepared to spend £1,000,000 to market the produce of our overseas Dominions, and then we have to ask them what they are doing to help the markets in the products of this great fishing industry. I will conclude, having made the few remarks I have without elaborating them, with the hope that hon. Members who are about to follow me will impress upon the Government the need to concentrate their efforts on improving this industry.
§ Sir FRANK MEYER
In the course of his interesting and original speech, the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Rose) gave the House a list of the various sections which compose the fishing industry, and I am sorry to say in that list there was one very notable omission. He omitted to refer to the drifters and the herring industry, and it is therefore a great source of satisfaction to me that I have the opportunity to-night of saying 2438 a few words in this Debate on behalf of that industry, and as representing one of the most important centres of the herring fishing in the country. I say one of the most important. I might even have ventured to say the most important, if I had not seen present in the House my hon. Friend the Member for the neighbouring constituency of Lowestoft, and, in view of the fact that there has always been some little jealousy between Yarmouth and Lowestoft as to the supremacy of the herring fishery in England, I will not place my claims too high.
I will not detain the House at this late stage of the evening—because we want to hear what the Minister has to say in reply—by dilating once more on the importance of this industry in the matter of the production of food and the great services which have been rendered by the men who are employed in fishing for herrings. This is a subject of common agreement amongst all parties. I should like, however, before dealing with certain particular points in connection with the industry to re-echo what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) and other speakers as to the importance of teaching the people of this country the value of fish as food. Everybody knows, everybody has heard, of the Yarmouth bloater. I do not know whether everybody has really eaten a Yarmouth bloater. They may have eaten a kind of imitation. If it is not out of order to do so, may I say to hon. Members that if they have not had the pleasure at any time of eating a Yarmouth bloater, if they will communicate with me during the next herring fishing season, I shall be delighted to see that they have a sample placed before them.
It is always difficult to suggest any particular remedy that may help an industry which has been going through such trying times as the fishing industry has of late, and in particular, so far as my knowledge extends, the herring fishery. I should like to call the attention of the Ministers to whom these matters have reference, to the increased difficulties and the greater burden upon those whose occupation lies in fishing for herrings. There are points which were raised last year which I am only going to touch upon in the briefest possible way. There is the question of the rate for coal. The railways have not yet granted to 2439 ports like Yarmouth and Lowestoft the shipping rate for coal, In view of the heavy proportion which coal bears to the whole expense of the drifters, it would be an immense advantage to the industry if the railways would grant that concession. The railways also still demand prepayment of freights for fish. They do that in England, but not in Scotland. I have no desire to raise any ill-feeling between the two countries; I would only like to impress upon the Minister of Transport—and as he is not here I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture to convey it to him—that we should like him to use all his influence with the railway companies in this matter, to back us up in what we believe to be our legitimate demand that they should assist this industry by giving us more equitable terms both for the transport of coal and for the transport of fish.
One other point, and this concerns the Board of Trade. I do hope that when the Merchandise Marks Bill, which has been adumbrated, is brought before us, we shall see that it contains a provision that dried fish imported from abroad in boxes and cases will be marked with their origin just as, we understand, eggs and other produce are being now marked. I should like to bring that grievance before the President of the Board of Trade.
Then there are certain sins of omission which I want to bring to the attention of the Minister, and to ask his assistance. I refer to certain burdens which have been placed upon the fishing industry, and which make its task very much more difficult than it has been in the past. New Regulations have been issued in regard to the lights which have to be carried by fishing vessels—I believe by all vessels. These Regulations may be necessary for ocean-going steamers, and they may be drawn up in the best interests of navigation, but they are going to entail upon the fishing industry very heavy expense and great difficulties. The new lamps which are provided for in the Instructions which I hold in my hand, and which come into force in 1927, are going to cost twice as much as the old lights. They are going to be twice as heavy. They are going to make it extremely difficult for those who are just struggling to keep their heads above water in this industry to bear the addi- 2440 tional burden. It is not only a question of expense. I am assured by those who live and move in this industry, by the owners of boats, skippers, and members of the crews, that the extra weight of these lamps is going to be such that it will be positively dangerous, especially on some of the very small boats, drifters, in a rough sea. I appeal to the Minister to do what he can to see that drifters and small boats are exempted from those Regulations, as certain other boats, such as tugs and inshore boats, already are.
The next complaint is about a Clause in last year's Merchant Shipping Act, which lays it down that nobody under the age of 18 shall be employed as a fireman or trimmer. That may be necessary in the case of large ocean-going ships, but in the case of a drifter, which goes to sea for only 24 hours or so, it seems to me an unnecessary Regulation, which can only entail useless expense. It is laid down in the Regulations that if it be impossible to find anybody over the age of 18 to take the position of a fireman or a trimmer, two lads between the ages of 16 and 18 must be engaged. If anybody has been down the stokehold and the engine-room of a drifter, they will realise how ridiculous it is to apply that Regulation to such a small vessel.
Finally, I wish to refer to something which concerns very closely Yarmouth and Lowestoft, though I am not sure how far it affects other constituencies interested in the herring fishery, and that is the question of net menders. A Trade Board has recently been established to regulate their wages. They are largely home workers; the work is largely done by women in their own homes. No complaint of any kind has reached me since I have been connected with Yarmouth that their wages were unsatisfactory or insufficient, but owing to outside agitation an inquiry was demanded, and was granted by the Ministry of Labour, and a Trade Board has been set up. The wages have not yet been settled by that Board, but I must say clearly and definitely that if the wages to be laid down are considerably in excess of those paid in the past, and tend to discourage piecework, the only result will be that women who have been able to earn useful sums to augment the family income will simply lose their jobs altogether.
The remarks I have made hitherto have been, I believe, more or less uncontrover- 2441 sial, but there is one other subject on which I feel that I must express my own opinion, and that is the question of granting Export Credits to Russia. A great many speeches on that subject have been made recently in this House. I think the speech which the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) made the other night threw a certain amount of cold water on the enthusiasm of some of those who had been so eagerly advocating the extension of the Export Credits system to Russia for herring exports. I wish to say at once that I am unalterably opposed to any—such proposal. I believe it to be economically unsound, and I believe it would be of no value whatsoever to the herring industry. What are the essentials which should be complied with before the Export Credits scheme is applied to any industry or any country? The first is that the purchaser should be commercially above suspicion. I do not want to deal with that point, because it is quite clear to the House what my view is, and it is not particular to the herring industry, but applies to the extension of the Export Credits scheme to trade as a whole with Russia. The second condition, an essential condition, is that it should not he possible to undertake the transaction without this assistance. Can it genuinely and seriously be said that Russia, with a credit of £15,000,000 in this country, is unable to expend the few hundred thousands necessary to impart the extra number of herrings which, would represent the difference between what she is now importing and what she used to import?
Moreover there is this distinction and it is a very important one. Whereas export credits may be justified for importing machinery, rails, and means of transport, the result of which may not be seen for some years, what justification can there be for using Export Credits for such things as herrings bought for immediate resale and distribution? Has it been seriously put forward that Russia cannot afford a few hundred thousand pounds to purchase the herrings when she is going to resell them to her own population? The reason why Russia is not doing the same amount of trade with us in herrings as she did before the War is that she has enormously increased her own fisheries. In the second place her people are largely impoverished and the transport system of Russia has com- 2442 pletely broken down. Last July there were in Russia 18,000 tons of fish undistributed from the previous year's purchase, and there are now in Russia stocks of well over 100,000 tons and nearer 200,000 tons of fish waiting to be distributed.
§ Sir F. MEYER
I do not think I am called upon to give that information at this juncture. That being the case, how would the export credits and the extension of that system to Russia assist the fishing industry in this country? I can quite understand why hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite advocate such a thing, because on the question of Russia they seem to be blind to all the ordinary considerations which should apply to a reasonable business proposition. It astonishes me that the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Templeton) and other hon. Members should have advocated the extension of these credits to Russia without properly studying the facts and realising all its implications. I again assert that never would I advocate such a scheme which violates every economic principle which is unsound and would not be beneficial to the fishing industry.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Guinness)
I should like to congratulate the Mover of this Resolution, not only on the very fertile Debate which it has produced but also on his remarkable originality in drafting his Motion, because he has indicted six Government Departments, namely, the Department of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Labour, the Board of Education, the Board of Trade, and the Ministry of Health. I know that my hon. and gallant Friend who moved this Motion has great discrimination, but I should like to ask why he has left out the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In the case of his own constituency he complains that he was always given the answer of "the next Department," but that is inevitable because of our system of Government. The Ministry of Agriculture looks after the interests of the fisheries, but inevitably there are cases where the interests of fishermen come within the ambit of other Government Departments which have to 2443 look after national interests in a particular service.
My hon. and gallant Friend regretted the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He referred to an answer which I gave the other day, in which I mentioned the small mobility of a certain class of fish, and he suggested that I was here to-night because I was less mobile than my right hon. colleague. Anyhow, I can assure him that I will pass on to all the other Ministries involved the various points that have been raised. Since the original Motion was moved, an alternative has been suggested, and, although the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) said it was practically indistinguishable, it has this advantage, that it expresses the view, I am sure, of the whole House as to the importance of helping the fishing industry, without criticising the action or inaction of Government Departments, which, owing to the exigencies of a Debate lasting only three hours, could not possibly be fully discussed. I think, however, that we have had a most practical Debate, in which, contrary to the tradition, anyhow, of fresh-water fishing, there has been a very little romancing, and I am quite sure we shall benefit by the very practical and useful proposals which have been brought forward. I have only time to deal briefly with a few of the points.
The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) raised the question of the varying limits of territorial waters, and specially mentioned Norway. Long negotiations have taken place on that subject, but I am afraid they have not been successful. I can, however, reassure my hon. Friend that the Foreign Office, the Admiralty, and the Ministry responsible for fisheries, are all united on one matter, and that is that we are going to stand by the three-mile limit in this country. The question of the Moray Firth was raised. That is a matter which really affects my hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health. The Moray Firth is, of course, a fishing ground of great importance to the inshore fishermen. It is a ground which at the present time, as I gather from my hon. and gallant Friend, is not very much visited by fishermen from other countries, and the question has been referred to the International Council for 2444 the Exploration of the Sea as to what restrictions may be imposed. Meanwhile, I am told by my hon. and gallant Friend that better supervision has been ensured by the addition of a faster and more efficient police vessel, which protects the fisheries on the Scottish coast, and also two cruisers and two hydroplane carriers.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northern Norfolk (Mr. Buxton) was concerned at the falling off of the catch since the War. I can reassure him that at present the results are most satisfactory, and in the last year the catch of trawl fish, which are the chief source of fish food in this country, has gone up by 12 per cent. as compared with the very good catch of 1913. Herrings are rather down, but on the whole the harvest of the sea last year has been extraordinarily good. The right hon. Gentleman was disturbed to think that fish was often used for such purposes as manure. I made inquiries on that subject, and also as to the allegation which I see in the Press that fish is sometimes dumped in the sea. I can find no confirmation of that statement. No doubt a certain amount of fish which is unfit for human consumption goes to the manure works, and a comparatively small quantity is thrown away because it is too small, but I do not believe there is any appreciable waste of fish which could be used for food purposes.
The hon. Member for Totnes (Major Harvey) raised the question of fishing in Start Bay. I understand this is a very old story about the trawlers and the crab pots. Last year we really had no complaints. On the question of the wrecks, which admittedly do great damage to the gear of the trawlers, it is not easy to see what can be done. If you begin to blow up the 170 wrecks which lie on the floor of the sea you will foul the fishing ground even more than if you left them alone. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Buxton) asked me about research. I can assure him and the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Rose) that research is not done, in the case of fishing, from Whitehall. It could not be done from Whitehall. It is done in England by my Department from three research centres. There is a station at Lowestoft, concerned chiefly with deep-sea fishing, a station at Conway, concerned with shell fish, and a station on the Upper Itchen, in Hampshire, concerned with freshwater fishery. The Lowestoft station is chiefly working in connection with the activities 2445 which concentrate in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
The measures taken for the conservation of deep sea fish must be taken in non-territorial waters, and therefore they cannot be dealt with by any one nation separately. That is why we must have international agreements on this subject. Of course such agreements, if they are to be wise, must be based on thorough knowledge and on efficient research. I am only too well aware that there have been certain proposals for preventing the wasteful destruction of immature fish which are not altogether in accordance with the views of certain sections of the British fishing industry, but these proposals have been put forward as the result of research. We are not, of course, committed to them in detail and I do not think I really ought to say anything more about it to-night seeing that my Department are going to discuss them with those concerned during the next few days.
I do want to impress on the House the importance of this research work for the benefit of our fisheries. The Lowestoft station has really carried out very interesting researches into the life history, distribution, movements, and temperature conditions of plaice, herrings, cod and haddock. They have traced out their spawning time, the history of their eggs and their development, the food that they need, and the conditions of climate under which they can live. Of course, it is a new science, and I do not imagine anybody can complain if we have not yet got more definite results, but we are at least hopeful that we may be able to arrive at the causes of the fluctuations in the supply of fish.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northern Norfolk said that research might often lead to wise regulations. If those were not the actual words, that was the sense of what he said. Research can also help in the contrary sense to prevent unwise regulations. There was formerly a campaign againt certain activities of the trawlers. It was said that they were destroying by the attentions they were paying to certain areas of the sea bottom the production of young fish. Our researches have shown that the eggs of the most important fish and the food upon which they depend are to be found in the surface waters, and are not affected by the activities of the trawlers.
2446 In regard to shellfish researches, we have begun chiefly on mussels. We have found the satisfactory way of cleansing mussels and making them absolutely safe from the danger of sewage. Oysters have proved more delicate, and seem much more susceptible to the effects of climate, but we are experimenting with them also. There are a good many very interesting and possibly productive experiments being carried out as to the breeding of that form of shellfish. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about winkles."] We have not gone into winkles. We shall reach that subject if the House continues its confidence in our research work. As to trawling, we are carrying out an important experiment as to the best form of mesh for the cod end, so as to catch the marketable fish and to spare the immature fish. If you consider the wonderful fertility of nature in the shape of a fish, the variation between fish which are practically length without breadth and fish of every shape to almost a perfect cube, it is really an extraordinary achievement that, if I am rightly informed, we are on the eve of finding a method of producing such a net as will let through the unsuitable kinds of fish life.
Researches have also been carried out by the Food Investigation Board of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The Fish Preservation Committee, who have sat under the chairmanship of one of the officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, are going into the question of the handling, curing, and preservation of fish, and have been doing some very useful work in regard to the freezing of fish. They have published two very interesting Reports on the subject. They are also going into the question of canning and the by-products which can be made from fish, particularly the fish meal, which, besides being valuable food for stock, is very useful in certain foreign countries for sausage-making, and other products. The hon. Member for Yarmouth (Sir F. Meyer) raised the question of navigation lights. The Board of Trade have had their attention drawn to that matter and are giving sympathetic consideration to the representations which have been made. I would remind my hon. Friend that these matters are for the safety of fishermen. As to the age of stokers and trimmers, whatever may be the merits, 2447 we cannot vary that without denouncing an international convention and amending an Act of Parliament.
I have not time to deal with any other subjects, but I wish to say that we appreciate the great importance of keeping the fishing industry in full efficiency. There is no industry in the country of greater value for national defence. The fishing industry is the training ground for our seamen, and it provides a ready-made reserve fleet for our mine-sweeping and anti-submarine work in time of war. The fishermen have a splendid record. More men per cent. were enrolled into the Forces from that industry during the War than from any other industry. I am glad to think that, owing to the price of coal at Grimsby, fishing is now doing better than a year ago. I think the whole House will welcome this Debate as a means of bringing before Parliament an industry which, as the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) said, is not asking for backsheesh, but has raised itself by its own efforts from the trough of post-War depression. It is an industry which has set a shining example of what can be done by enterprise in business, where co-partnership has become traditional and whore there are no artificial restrictions on a man's efforts, and nothing to prevent him from doing his best.
§ Mr. GROTRIAN
I am extremely glad to hear, representing as I do the second largest fishing port in the country, that the Minister means firmly to adhere to the three miles' limit. I hope he will keep the Foreign Office up to the mark as well. I am certain that if once you give way in any part of Europe you will have extreme pressure brought to bear upon you to give way in other parts.
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.