HC Deb 26 May 1952 vol 501 cc913-4
5. Major Anstruther-Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now make a considered statement upon the Government of Iceland's attitude over fishing in Icelandic territorial waters.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Yes, Sir. As the House is aware, a Note was addressed to the Icelandic Government on 2nd May objecting to the new Icelandic Fishery Regulations. Her Majesty's Government's objections were based on two grounds, namely (a) that one of the base lines is drawn in a manner contrary to the principles recently approved by The Hague Court and (b) that Iceland is not entitled to extend the breadth of her territorial sea, as the Regulations purport to do, from three to four miles. The Icelandic Government were asked to amend their Regulations, to take account of these objections. They have since replied, in a note dated 12th May, rejecting our request on both points.

The Icelandic reply has now been considered and Her Majesty's Government find themselves unable to accept the standpoint maintained by the Icelandic Government. A reply to this effect is in course of preparation and will be despatched shortly.

The Icelandic Government were warned of the bad effect which their unilateral action would have upon public opinion in this country. Her Majesty's Government, however, still hope for a settlement of this matter by agreement.

Major Anstruther-Gray

May we take it from my right hon. and learned Friend that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to stand out strongly for British interests in this matter?

Mr. Lloyd

Her Majesty's Government have made strong representations throughout to the Icelandic Government in defence of British interests.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Would not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that possibly the best solution is to get together all the fishing Powers concerned to work out this very thorny problem, which cuts both ways?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly, I will bear in mind my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion.

Mr. Edward Evans

Is not this matter related to the whole question of over-fishing? Is it true that the prohibitions placed upon foreign fishermen apply equally to Icelandic fishermen? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether that statement really represents the facts?

Mr. Lloyd

That is certainly so. In fact, there is another Question on the Order Paper dealing with that matter, which I will answer in due course.

29. Mr. Stanley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what undertakings Her Majesty's Government have sought from the Icelandic Government with regard to limitation of fishing by Icelandic vessels in the fishing waters which it is now proposed to restrict.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The new Icelandic regulations include a provision specifically applying them to Icelandic trawlers and seine-net fishing boats. Her Majesty's Government recently sought an assurance from the Icelandic Government that this regulation would continue to apply to Icelandic vessels.

The Icelandic reply is contained in an aide mémoire of 12th May, of which a copy was placed in the Library on 19th May. It confirms that the regulation excludes Icelandic vessels from the restricted areas equally with foreign vessels and declares that no change in this arrangement is contemplated. Further, the Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs has given an oral assurance that it is intended to treat Icelandic vessels in the same manner as foreign ones.