HC Deb 23 February 1955 vol 537 cc1256-7
16. Major Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement about the investigation of the British-Icelandic fishing dispute by the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.

24. Mr. Collins

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what developments there are in the negotiations with the Icelandic Government in respect to the fishing dispute; and, in particular, what representations have been made to enable British trawlers to shelter in Icelandic bays during bad weather.

30. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further steps he has taken to settle the fishing dispute with the Icelandic Government.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. H. Turton)

Discussions are taking place under a chairman appointed by the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation. As these discussions are confidential, I regret that I cannot make a statement at the present time. As regards the second part of Question No. 24, the hon. Member is under a misapprehension; trawlers of all nationalities have always been able to shelter in Icelandic waters, provided their fishing gear is stowed.

Major Wall

Can my hon. Friend say whether these negotiations are still proceeding, and whether or not the industry has been associated with them? Does he appreciate that he has the full support of the fishing industry in trying to find some acceptable solution to this unfortunate dispute?

Mr. Turton

These discussions are still proceeding and, therefore, I do not want to say anything more about the matter at the present time, but I am most grateful for the assurance contained in the last part of my hon. and gallant Friend's supplementary question.

Mr. Collins

Can the Joint Undersecretary now say when he hopes to be able to make a statement at the end of these negotiations, because they have been going on for many months, and, considering that they are taking place with a friendly Power, a settlement should be reached?

Mr. Turton

These negotiations, stimulated by O.E.E.C., have not been going on for a very long time and it would therefore be better not to be too impatient. By being a little patient we may be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Mr. Willey

In view of the fact that the conditions with regard to sheltering in Iceland mean a limitation of shelter, and in view of the tragic losses of last month, will the Joint Under-Secretary do what he can to expedite a decision being reached in this case?

Mr. Turton

We are well aware of that fact.