HC Deb 05 June 1951 vol 488 cc790-1
15. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how far, before making the Order forbidding the taking of lobsters in spawn, he consulted fishermen's organisations; and how far other methods of conserving stocks were considered.

Mr. T. Fraser

Four associations of fishermen in Scotland were consulted before the Order was made. Besides prohibiting the taking of lobsters carrying spawn, the Order increased from 8 in. to 9 in. the minimum length of lobsters which may be landed. Other methods of conserving stocks were considered impracticable.

Mr. Grimond

While appreciating the need for conserving stocks and the rather difficult nature of this problem, will the Minister bear in mind the considerable hardship that these people are likely to suffer under the Order? Can he tell us what evidence he has that stocks are being seriously depleted at this moment?

Mr. Fraser

There is evidence of stocks falling in some of the lobster fisheries. We had recommendations as long ago as 1946 from the Neven-Spence Committee in favour of imposing this restriction. There is no other way of imposing restrictions and saving stocks than the making of this Order.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

While certain organisations may have been consulted, is the Minister aware that in the north-west of Scotland and in the Islands, where a large number of lobsters are caught, there was no consultation of any kind? In that area, so far from there being a depletion of stocks, the industry has been almost overwhelmed. Will the Minister reconsider this matter again, because it concerns the livelihood of those people?

Mr. Fraser

We can only discuss these matters with associations. If individual fishermen in particular parts of the country are not members of an association it is impossible for us to consult them.

Sir Harold Roper

What steps have been taken to ensure that French fishermen do not come and lift the lobsters around the Cornish coasts?

Mr. Fraser

That is another question.

Sir David Robertson

Are any lobster fishermen members of the association which the Minister's Department has been consulting?

Mr. Fraser

I should imagine that some of the lobster fishermen are. I imagine that a large number of the crofter fishermen are not members.

Mr. John MacLeod

Is the Minister aware that many fishermen on the west coast tell me that this Order means that they will have to go out of business?

Mr. Fraser

I think they are a little early in deciding that they are going to be put out of business by the operation of the Order.

Sir William Darling

Does the Minister take no cognisance of individuals? Must they join associations before he will listen to them?

Mr. Fraser

Not at all, but for consultation they must join an association. We cannot consult all the lobster fishermen in Scotland.