HC Deb 07 November 1955 vol 545 cc1465-6
16. Wing Commander Bullus

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made to end the three-years-old dispute of this country with Iceland over the fishing industry.

Mr. Turton

I regret that I cannot yet announce any substantial progress. The special Group of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, which is considering the dispute, is not yet ready to report.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Council of Europe, on Belgian initiative, is interesting itself in this matter? Is he further aware that unless the O.E.E.C. produces some result fairly soon the Council of Europe will inevitably propose—I hope with the blessing of my right hon. Friend—to refer this matter to the peaceful settlement of disputes procedure, which the Council of Europe is at the moment erecting?

Mr. Turton

On the first point, the Icelandic Government have recently issued a further memorandum to the Council of Europe, and that is now being studied. On the work of the O.E.E.C., the next meeting of the group has been provisionally fixed for 28th November.

Dr. King

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is a tragedy that two free and very friendly nations cannot settle this difficulty between them? Will he not ask the British fishing industry to make a gesture towards peace by dropping the ban on Icelandic fish?

Mr. Turton

I agree it is a tragedy that this dispute should have occurred, but I hope very much that the work being done by the group of O.E.E.C. will have satisfactory results.