§ 9. Sir R. Boothby
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether he is aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to man the herring fleets owing to the steady drift of fishermen to other industries, and that this is largely due to the existing regulations regarding the payment of unemployment benefit; and whether he will introduce new regulations designed to ensure the herring fishermen, as such, are no longer classified as seasonal workers.
§ Mr. Peake
I am not convinced that the rules for unemployment benefit have materially contributed to the difficulty referred to by my hon. Friend. In any event, however, the desirability of retaining labour in an industry is not a valid ground for giving its workers special treatment in relation to unemployment benefit.
§ Sir R. Boothby
Is my right hon. Friend aware that until the herring fishermen are satisfied that they will not be classified as seasonal workers, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to man the fleet for the forthcoming summer's fishing? In view of the large sums of money spent by the Government on the construction of new craft which are now tied up in the ports, does not my right hon. Friend think it is a great pity that a few pettifogging regulations should stop the herring fleet putting to sea?
§ Mr. Lindgren
Is not the Minister aware that ever since the Act was introduced special arrangements have been made for fishermen, particularly share 925 fishermen, and should not those arrangements be extended to the herring industry?
§ Mr. Peake
Certainly; it is only since 1948 that share fishermen of this class were brought within the ambit of the legislation at all, but I would inform my hon. Friend that out of some 550 applications for unemployment benefit by share fishermen at Peterhead in a recent period, only 38 were, in fact, disallowed on this count.