HC Deb 22 March 1955 vol 538 c1851
11. Sir R. Boothby

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the reconstruction of the inshore fishing fleets has proceeded to a point at which it is becoming difficult to man the modern craft which are now available; and, in view of the desirability of limiting the size of the fleets to a level at which they will give a good economic return, whether he will direct the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board to curtail the operation of the grant-and-loan scheme in respect of new construction, and to concentrate on engine replacement.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I have no evidence of serious difficulty in manning inshore fishing vessels or of a need to curtail the grant and loan scheme for the reason stated. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has, however, already announced that we propose to amend the scheme so as to put it beyond doubt that the White Fish Authority, in considering applications for grant, may have regard to the needs of the fisheries as well as to the individual merits of the applicant. A similar amendment of the Herring Grants Scheme is also proposed. Both the Authority and the Herring Industry Board already give grants freely for new engines in suitable cases.

Sir R. Boothby

If the hon. Gentleman has any doubts about the difficulty of manning the fleets, will he pay a brief visit in the near future to Fraserburgh and Peterhead and have a look at the number of craft tied up in harbour in those two ports?

Mr. Stewart

According to the facts which were given officially, only four boats have been held up recently for lack of crews. Those are all that have been brought to our notice. If my hon. Friend can give me further information, I shall be very glad to have it.