§ 31. Mr. MILLAR
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whither, in view of the closing date for applications for loans under the loans scheme instituted to meet the loss of herring-fishing gear in the East Anglian fishing disaster of 11th November last being fixed for 1st March, he will consider as to the provision of a further loan fund, to operate from the same date, to meet the requirements of the many fishermen who have suffered serious loss of fishing gear on other occasions than on the 11th November last, and to assist them in the replacement of old and worn-out drifters and fishing vessels?
§ 35. Sir A. SINCLAIR
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received from fishermen's associations in Scotland resolutions impressing upon His Majesty's Government 1141 the urgency of a comprehensive scheme for assisting fishermen by way of loans for the replacement of fishing vessels and fishing gear; and whether he proposes to ask Parliament to make the necessary provision?
Mr. W. ADAMSON
As I have previously indicated, I have not felt justified in proposing a general scheme of credit facilities for fishermen for the replacement of boats and gear, and I have recently received a representation from a fishermen's association of the nature referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland.
§ Mr. MILLAR
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very widespread demand, apart from fishermen who will benefit under the particular loan following the disaster of 11th November, for loans to be made for assistance to enable them also to replace their gear, and that there are many cases of quite as great hardship among the men who are not going to benefit out of this fund but who are anxiously awaiting the decision of the Department?
I am well aware of the widespread desire on the part of fishermen who have sustained losses on boats other than on the 11th November to participate in the fund, but I am not aware of a current demand among the fishermen for loans for the replacement of boats and gear.
§ Mr. EVERARD
Is it not a fact that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland told the fishermen that they could not get anything unless they joined the Labour party?
That is a matter that has been referred to on several occasions in this House by various Members, and it is a statement that is not true.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that it is not only the men to whom my hon. and learned Friend referred, but also the young fishermen who are now unable to obtain any more than a labour share in a boat, because they cannot afford to buy the nets and gear unless they are given this help; and will he not consider, before the summer fishing comes on, whether it would not be possible to extend this scheme so as to help them?
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that I am in close contact with all sections of the fishermen and know their difficulties, and if it is possible for me to help them in any way, I shall be prepared to render whatever help I can give them.
§ 32. Mr. MILLAR
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the limit of £50,000 placed on the loan fund instituted to cover the loss of fishing gear in the East Anglian fishing disaster of 11th November last, and to the fact that the replacement value of the nets and gear lost was estimated by him to amount to £143,000, he will be prepared to consider applications for loans, as approved, up to the total amount applied for, to meet the balance of the losses incurred after making allowance for the grants made out of the Fishermen's Relief Fund?
Mr. W. ADAMSON
The limit of £50,000, which is provided in the Estimates, was fixed in view of the fact that in the ordinary course a considerable amount of replacement takes place every year, and that the fishermen will be able to provide in the aggregate a certain amount of the requisite gear without borrowing from the Fishery Board. I see no reason to suppose that the Loan Fund of £50,000, combined with the aid available from the Lord Provosts' Fund amounting to £26,252, will be insufficient to meet the needs of the ease.
§ Mr. MILLAR
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the conditions applicable to this fund it has been stated that the Government will not guarantee that all the fishermen who apply will receive the full amount of the loans for which they apply? What is the good of having a loan fund unless they can be guaranteed the amount for which they apply?
The hon. Gentleman will be well advised to wait and see how the loans that have already been arranged for are taken up before he presses me further upon it.