HC Deb 01 November 1938 vol 340 cc8-9
9. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement on the recent failure of the West Coast herring fishing resulting from the action, at inadequate notice, of the Herring Industry Board in banning curing even for local consumption; whether he can state why the board had not anticipated the over-curing on the East Coast and prevented it instead of penalising the West Coast ports; and what steps he proposes to take, by legislation or otherwise, to prevent the further collapse of the herring industry in the near future?

Mr. Colville

The prohibition of curing to which the hon. Member refers may have shortened the herring fishing season on the West Coast by two or three weeks, but the season cannot be regarded as a failure. The catch at Stornoway during the summer of this year amounted to approximately 49,000 crans, valued at £91,000. Last year the catch was 31,000 crans, valued at £57,000, and in 1936, 37,000 crans, valued at £67,000. I am informed that the board's reason for prohibiting curing between 29th August and 30th September last was that they were satisfied that the quantity of herring already cured of the kind produced at Stornoway at that time of the year was more than sufficient to meet the demands of the markets, and that, if any further amount had been cured, it would have been exceedingly difficult to sell. With regard to the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the Act which has recently been passed for the purpose of amending and extending the powers in the Herring Industry Act, 1935.

Mr. MacMillan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, while the Herring Industry Board permitted what was obviously the over-curing of a very large amount of inferior herring caught on the East Coast, without taking any action to make sure that they were marketable, the board took action penalising the West Coast, where the best herring in the world were being produced?

Mr. Macquisten

Does not this go to show that the Herring Industry Board are doing more harm than good, and should be abolished?

Mr. Colville indicated dissent.