HC Deb 14 March 1950 vol 472 cc894-6
16. Mr. Boothby

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether any decision has now been reached with regard to the flat-rate transport charge for fish, including herrings.

25. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how far it is his intention to maintain the flat-rate transport system for the carriage of fish, under which Scottish fishermen are assisted to compete on fair terms for the inland markets with the large fishing ports in England.

30. Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether a decision has now been reached to retain the flat transport rate when fish price control is lifted.

Mr. McNeil

As announced on 24th December last, the fish transport scheme will come to an end when fish prices are de-controlled at the weekend of 15th April.

Lady Tweedsmuir

In view of the very grave effect that this decision will have on the fishing industry in the north of Scotland, has the Secretary of State urged upon his colleague the Minister of Transport the consideration of a general charges scheme for merchandise?

Mr. McNeil

There is a Departmental inquiry going on, although I would not be too optimistic about the outcome; but, of course, I anticipate that any scheme would depend upon its unanimous acceptance by all sections of the industry.

Mr. Harrison

To what extent has the price of fish risen in this connection?

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

Is the Scottish Office represented, or will it be, upon the Departmental inquiry to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred?

Mr. McNeil

It is represented.

Mr. Boothby

Does the right hon. Gentleman really think he can now add greatly increased freight charges to the already rising price of every other requirement of the fishing industry? Will he do something about it now?

Mr. McNeil

I am quite certain I am right in my recollection that the hon. Gentleman has continually advocated the general thesis of de-control. That de-control, whatever merits or demerits it may have, will permit some of these factors to be reflected in the price.

Major Grimond

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that this is a much more serious matter for the smaller inshore fishermen in the north of Scotland than it is for the larger businesses of the south, and will he be sure that their needs are kept in mind?

Mr. McNeil

I am aware, of course, of these differences between the size and the degree of the interests of the north and the south. It was one of the points I put to the hon. and gallant Gentleman when he was advocating complete separation of the domestic affairs of Scotland and England.