HC Deb 05 March 1956 vol 549 cc1679-80
2. Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is now in a position to make a statement on legislation to increase the grants payable for the building of new trawlers.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. D. Heathcoat Amory)

I cannot add to the reply I gave my hon. Friend on 26th January.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that while, so far as Aberdeen is concerned, a distinguished past member of the White Fish Authority has said that thirty-five new trawlers are to be built, nevertheless, the high price of building today is a very great deterrent? Does my right hon. Friend not think that it is time to consider increasing the grant available and reducing the percentage of the loan?

Mr. Amory

I do agree that the present costs of building are very high, but I believe that the progress made with this scheme since its inception has been very satisfactory, and there is the limiting factor that at present yards are filled for a period of between one and two years, so that I do not think that at the present time we could force the pace very much more.

8. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of the need for the replacement of old and out-of-date fishing trawlers by new ones and of the inability of many trawler owners to replace such trawlers owing to present high shipbuilding costs; and if he will make a statement of his plans for legislation designed to assist such owners by grants and loans and of his plans generally for assisting in the renovation and building of our fishing fleets where necessary.

Mr. Amory

Under the Grants and Loans Scheme introduced in 1953, 111 new trawlers have been approved and 40 of them are already fishing. As to the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) on 26th January.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister realise the importance of timing the replacements to synchronise with or even precede the scrapping at the rate of at least one for one, as it is obvious that otherwise the fleet will diminish, with loss to everybody concerned?

Mr. Amory

The importance of the aspect which the hon. and learned Member has mentioned, is, of course, very much in our minds. It is one of the reasons for the fact that we have the present white fish subsidy. As to the second part of the Question, I have already said that I do not think that we can regard the progress to date as anything other than satisfactory. A total of 111 new trawlers has been approved, 40 have been built and are already fishing, and I understand that another 30 are likely to be completed during the present year.

Lady Tweedsmuir

When my right hon. Friend reviews the subsidy scheme which is due to end at the end of July, will he bear in mind the importance of having the right proportion of boats scrapped, at the present high price of scrap, and of boats which it is possible to build when berths are full? Will he, therefore, make sure that the subsidy for steam vessels is continued during that period?

Mr. Amory

I will certainly bear in mind the point which my hon. Friend has made.

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