HC Deb 08 July 1952 vol 503 cc1082-3
30. Mr. M. MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he now has for easing the hardship caused among Western Isles lobster fishermen by prohibiting the landing of lobsters in spawn in the lobster ponds in Lewis and Harris; and what steps he is taking to prevent foreign vessels removing large numbers of berried and immature lobsters from the same fishing grounds around the islands.

Mr. J. Stuart

The lobster catch in the Western Isles from January to May is not much less this year than it was in 1951, and I see no reason for action at this moment. The inshore waters are patrolled to prevent illegal fishing by foreign vessels.

Mr. MacMillan

Is the Minister aware that we had much better weather in the spring and summer of this year than we had last year, and the landings would have been very much higher than they have been if it had not been for this pernicious Order; and is he also aware that there is any amount of first-hand evidence among the local fishermen, or any observers in the Western Isles, that French and other foreign vessels come in to fish, both inside and outside territorial waters, for lobsters in spawn and otherwise?

Mr. Stuart

I would like to have notice of the second part of the question. With regard to the first part, I think that it is too early to say that we should alter this Order, whatever adjective one applies to it, because it was brought in with a view to increasing the stocks.

Mr. MacMillan

Does not that mean that it is also too early to argue the other way, and that no evidence has been accepted from any of the men who really know—the local fishermen?

Mr. Grimond

Can the Minister say whether any experiments are being carried out to find an alternative to this Order in case, in the course of time, he becomes convinced of what lots of fishermen believe—that it is a bad Order?

Mr. Stuart

I would be very glad to receive any suggestions on the subject.

Mr. John MacLeod

Can the Minister not see that some of the local men on the spot are consulted?