§ 40. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will specify the nature of the evidence he has received, and the sources from which he has received it, on which to base the terms and conditions of the White Fish Subsidy Scheme, due to operate from 1st August, 1956.
From the near and middle water fleet, the audited trading returns for last year; from the inshore fishermen, information on costs and earnings; and as regards both, consultations with the representative organisations and the White Fish Authority.
§ Mr. Hughes
Will the Minister make that evidence available to the Members of this House and to the fishing industry generally?
I am afraid that would be very difficult indeed. It is coming to us in all kinds of forms. Some is written, some oral. It is extremely difficult to collate and put together in the form of a report.
§ Mr. Edward Evans
Will the right hon. Gentleman, when formulating draft Regulations, have regard to the tremendous increase of the costs of operating coal and diesel driven vessels, and to the fact that the original sum granted for subsidy has now depreciated in value to such an extent that the policy of tapering off will hit the steam vessels and the diesel vessels very hard indeed unless he modifies the terms of the Regulations?
Of course, the reason for our asking for these returns is precisely what the hon. Member has in mind, and that is that we want to find out exactly how much these costs have risen over the past year or so.
§ Mr. G. R. Howard
In view of my right hon. Friend's answer to me last week at Question Time, may I ask whether there is any way in which we can help in getting further information to the Government before they have to come to a decision on this very vexed question in August, because, as my right hon. Friend is no doubt aware, there have been certain difficulties in the inshore fishing industry lately which should have brought to the notice of everybody the dissatisfaction there is in this industry over rising costs and prices?
I doubt whether there is anything we can do now. We have been in touch throughout the past few months with fishermen's associations, in the case of the inshore fishermen with the inshore fishermen's associations, and we have done the utmost we could to ensure that we got as useful information as possible. I am afraid that, so far as the inshore fishermen's industry goes, it is still a bit sketchy.
§ 41. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that the problems involved in the White Fish Subsidy Scheme are various and technical; that they are urgent; that they can be resolved only on expert and authoritative evidence; and if he will take steps to appoint a commission to take evidence on the subject and to make recommendations to be embodied in the forthcoming White Fish Subsidy Scheme, due to operate from 1st August, 1956.
The answer to the first three parts of the Question is "Yes, Sir"; that to the last part "No, Sir".
§ Mr. Hughes
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that his answers to this and to the preceding Question are far too pragmatic, and that evidence should be laid before this House and the fishing industry so that they can see whether any real attempt is being made to do justice to that industry?
I attempt on all occasions to be as pragmatic as I can. I shall have to reconsider my position, obviously, in view of what the hon. and learned Member has said.