HC Deb 06 April 1936 vol 310 cc2421-2

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that owing to the bad financial position of the Scottish fishing fleets there is a possibility that they will not be able to put to sea this season; and will he therefore consider the provision of a grant for the reconditioning of the fleets to enable them to put to sea in the normal way?

The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. T. M. Cooper)

My right hon. Friend is aware that a number of the Scottish herring drifters require financial assistance for the purposes of reconditioning and equipment with nets. Financial assistance in the form of loans for these purposes has been offered by the Herring Industry Board in pursuance of the Herring Industry Act. I would refer to the reply given to the hon. Member on 24th March which explained that grants for these purposes are not permitted by the Act.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the average net earnings of fishermen employed in steam drifters working from the port of Buckie in the years 1924, 1930, 1932, 1934, and 1935?


I regret that the information desired by the hon. Member is not available.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the herring fishing fleet is rapidly falling into obsolescence and disrepair; and, in view of the fact that an efficient drifter fleet is an essential part of the national defences, whether His Majesty's Government will take immediate steps to improve the quality and efficiency of the herring fleet?


My right hon. Friend is aware that a considerable number of the existing steam drifters are in poor condition. As regards the second part of the question, financial assistance has been offered by the Herring Industry Board under the Herring Industry Act for improving the condition of the vessels, and the Board propose to consider the question of new construction when the results of reconditioning are ascertained.


Is the Lord Advocate aware that there is no capital in the industry and that it consequently cannot raise the money to take advantage of the loan at the present time; and, in regard to the difficulties of the herring fishing fleet, whether the Scottish Office are in touch with the Minister for the Coordination of Defence and the Herring Industry Board on the subject?


As regards the latter part of the question, I understand that the possible utilisation of herring drifters for the purposes of national defence is under consideration by the proper Department. As regards the earlier part of the question, I can only refer the hon. Member to the fuller information which was given in reply to the question on 24th March when it was pointed out that the Herring Industry Act passed only last year was passed in the full knowledge of the position of the herring industry, and that schemes under that Act are at the moment in process of being carried into operation.


Does the Lord Advocate agree with the suggestion in the question that private enterprise has completely failed?

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