HC Deb 06 February 1939 vol 343 cc631-3
50. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the continued decline in the numbers of men and boats and in the earnings of the herring industry, and, in particular, the distress of skippers and crews of steam drifters; and whether it is the intention of the Government to offer any further assistance to the industry to meet the unfair and artificial obstacles placed in the way of herring exports to the Continent?

Mr. Ramsbotham

My right hon. Friend is aware of the condition of the British herring industry to which my hon. Friend calls attention. As my hon. Friend is aware, the whole position was fully considered last year and the Herring Industry Act, 1938, contained provision for additional assistance. I understand that the Herring Industry Board are applying themselves, inter alia, to the question of new markets abroad. In any case the Government will continue to do what lies in their power to open up and maintain such markets for our herring exports.

Mr. Stewart

Will my hon. Friend consider the advisability of offering some financial assistance to the trawler crews, who were not aided by the recent Act to which he has referred?

Mr. Ramsbotham

My right hon. Friend will give consideration to any proposition which my hon. Friend may bring forward.

Mr. Gibson

In taking steps with regard to new markets, will the Minister keep in view the position of the Clyde in relation to those new markets?

Mr. Ramsbotham

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Adamson

Will the herring industry be taken into consideration in this regard?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I will read again a relevant portion of my original reply: I understand that the Herring Industry Board are applying themselves, inter alia, to the question of new markets abroad.

56. Mr. Day

asked the Minister of Agriculture what information he has as to the effects of restriction schemes in reducing supplies of fish to the consumers of this country; and whether, as it is desirable that this vital food should be free from restrictions on its supply, he will take steps to maintain the profits to the fishing industry on the basis of larger sales at lower prices, secured, if necessary, by sales campaigns, instead of by restriction of supply?

Mr. Ramsbotham

My right hon. Friend is aware that a voluntary scheme for regulating the operations of the distant-water fishing fleets of Hull and Grimsby has been in operation during the past year and is being continued for a further period. It was adopted as an emergency measure because over-production had resulted in bringing down the port prices of white fish to an unremunerative level. The scheme has resulted in reducing supplies below the record figure for 1937, but the total quantity of white fish landed by British vessels in 1938 was, nevertheless, the highest ever recorded apart from 1937. Moreover, while the average port price for Great Britain for 1938 was higher than that of 1936 and 1937, it was, nevertheless, well below that of 1934 and 1935.

Mr. Day

Has the Minister received a lot of representations on this subject from persons engaged in the trade?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I believe that some have been received.

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