29. Miss Ward
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that the catching power of the fishing fleets of Great Britain has fallen below that of Iceland, 516 Sweden, Denmark, Belgium or France today; and what steps he proposes to take to bring the fleet back to the level of 1938.
§ Mr. Nugent
I think my hon. Friend is under some misapprehension. The British fishing fleets as a whole are much larger and more powerful than those of the countries to which the hon. Lady refers; but I am aware that the catching power of our fleet which operates in near and middle waters is less than it was before the war, while the other countries mentioned have expanded theirs. Parliament has given its approval to substantial measures of expenditure to assist the fleets fishing the near, middle and inshore waters, including a provision of £9¾ million for grants for new vessels and engines.
As we do not seem to have got on very far, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he will pay a little more attention to his rôle as Minister of Fisheries, because that would be very welcome to those engaged in the fishing industry who are grappling with very difficult problems today?
§ Mr. Nugent
I cannot accept that we have not gone very far. We have had applications for the rebuilding of 26 near and middle water vessels, 45 inshore vessels and 34 herring vessels. I think that that is quite a good start.