HC Deb 29 April 1958 vol 587 cc186-7
44. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to see that the herring fishing season in Shetland can open on 1st May with reasonable prices for herring going to oil and meal.

Mr. Maclay

The arrangements for the purchase of surplus herring for reduction to oil and meal are a matter for the Herring Industry Board. I am, however, asking the Board to review the situation in the light of the representations I have received on the subject.

Mr. Grimond

Is the Secretary of State aware that this is really causing great dismay in Shetland and that his Answer, although I appreciate his difficulty, will not be taken as a great encouragement by the men on the deck of a herring boat? Does he not realise that if there is not an outlet for herrings in Shetland there is grave danger that this fishery will be permanently impaired? Will not the time be ripe on Thursday, when the Herring Industry Board meets the fishermen's representatives, for him to use his influence with the Board to see that it finds some outlet for herring? It is the Board's business to foster the industry and, at the moment, this is not being done and the position is extremely serious.

Mr. Maclay

As the hon. Gentleman clearly indicates in his supplementary question, I asked the Board to review the situation, and this meeting is to take place. I sincerely hope that something useful will come out of it.

Mr. T. Fraser

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Herring Industry Board will be able to review this decision only if it is given some definite encouragement from the Exchequer? In view of the threat to the herring industry in Shetland, will the right hon. Gentleman make clear that the Exchequer will find the money needed to enable the Herring Industry Board to accept herrings for fish meal as from the beginning of May? There is no time to lose.

Mr. Maclay

I do not think that that question arises. There is a herring subsidy scheme working at the moment, and I sincerely hope that the meeting next Thursday will produce some satisfactory results. We cannot tell yet.

Mr. John MacLeod

Does this question not show the unhappy relationship between the Herring Industry Board and the fishermen?

Mr. Maclay

I sincerely hope that the relationship is not too bad. I know that there have, from time to time, been difficulties, but I believe that the Herring Industry Board does its best to retain the closest and most friendly contact with the industry.