§ 7. Sir R. HAMILTON
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the difficulty which fishermen now have in replacing worn-out drifters; 2080 and if he will state what proposals, if any, he has for assisting them out of that difficulty?
Mr. W. ADAMSON
As indicated in my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Banff (Major Wood) on the 17th December, I have had no representations from fishermen requesting assistance for replacing worn-out drifters. At the same time, I am aware that fishermen will have to face the question at some future time and I have been investigating the possibilities of a new type of boat which could be built and run at a lower cost than the types now in use.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
Is the right hon. Gentleman investigating the question of the necessary credit for the replacement of these boats, as well as the question of a new type of boats, and is he inquiring into that question of credit on a different basis from that suggested by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland the other day in his speech at Aberdeen?
§ Major the Marquess of TITCHFIELD
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the latter part of that supplementary question?
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
Will the right hon. Gentleman assure this House that in any such arrangement made for the fishermen of Scotland the point of view expressed by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland that party politics should come in will not be the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"] In view of the very strange speech of the Under-Secretary at Aberdeen last Thursday, surely we are entitled to have from the Government an assurance that party politics will not come into the matter?
§ Mr. BROWN
With all respect, it is precisely about these matters that the speech was made. It was made about arrangements for credit and applications made for the aid of distressed fishermen, and surely we are entitled to use this House at Question Time to elicit from the Secretary of State for Scotland an assurance that party politics will not be considered by the Government in this matter.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
May I suggest that the Under-Secretary should make a personal explanation after questions?
§ 10. Major McKENZIE WOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that at the outbreak of the War steam drifters which were commandeered by the Government were commandeered with their nets and gear; that while the fishermen were paid only 30s. for their nets they had to re-equip themselves at about £9 per net; and whether the Government has taken these facts into consideration in refusing the fishermen's request for a Government contribution to the relief fund?
Mr. W. ADAMSON
I am unable to answer the first two parts of the question without further time for inquiry, but I am doubtful whether the statements are wholly accurate and they do not appear to me to be relevant to the subject of the recent disaster off the East Anglian Coast. I refer to my answer yesterday to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) as regards the assistance which the Government are prepared to offer in connection with the losses suffered in that disaster.
§ Major WOOD
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that, if these facts are only partially true, it shows that there is a real obli- 2082 gation on the part of the Government to come to the assistance of these fishermen; and will he inquire how much truth there is in it, because it will be a great surprise to me if it is not true, as I have had it on first hand authority?
These are questions which require careful inquiry. As to the second part of the supplementary question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness in which I stated the assistance which the Government are prepared to give.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Has the Secretary of State and his Department come to any definition as to what is the exact amount of money when the sum is mentioned as being "about £9"?