HC Deb 15 December 1952 vol 509 cc957-60
33. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that the fishermen of Tollesbury, Essex, could now be catching

Mr. Renton

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend say what chances there are of restoring the pre-war fruit content in time for next season's cropping?

Major Lloyd George

Perhaps my hon. Friend will wait until we have had time to consider the matter.

Following is the information:

thousands of bushels of sprats a day if there were a market for them; and what steps he is taking to improve the marketing and distribution and to encourage the consumption of this fish.

Major Lloyd George

I understand that the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board are urgently examining the possibility of providing a better market for sprats taken for conversion to oil and meal. The present public demand for sprats as food is limited, but the Authority are also considering what steps can be taken to encourage an increase in future seasons.

Mr. Driberg

Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself take some steps by refraining, at any rate, for a time, from dumping inferior foreign canned sprats on the market just at the season when there are plenty of fresh sprats coming along?

Major Lloyd George

Like a good many other inferior things, I inherited that, too. We have to get rid of these things because, as long as they are there, they are a menace to the market. I agree that the sooner they are got rid of the better. The hon. Gentleman says in his Question, "if there were a market," and there is a difficulty in finding a market.

Mr. Driberg

Even if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, as he says, inherited those stores of foreign canned fish, is it not a fact, that this particular situation—that all this excellent fresh fish is being wasted while most of the fishermen of Tollesbury remain unemployed—has not occurred in recent years? Will not he take some action?

Mr. McAdden

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that this question is one of long standing about which representations were made to the previous Government, and will he represent to the Service Departments that they might take British sprats instead of imported brislings?

Major Lloyd George

I have made representations to the Service Departments, but I regret to say that the response from those who matter, the consumers, was not so encouraging as I thought it would have been. But I will do everything I can, because I have sympathy with the Question.

Sir D. Robertson

Is it not a fact that these British sprats normally go to canners, but that owing to the action of the late Government in importing supplies from Norway and Denmark, huge stocks are glutting the market and it is impossible for British canners to buy fresh sprats?

Mr. Driberg

I wish to give notice that I shall be raising this matter on the Adjournment.

Forward to