HC Deb 02 November 1959 vol 612 cc660-1
33. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his conference in October, 1959, in London with the Norwegian Minister of Commerce regarding trade in fish and fish products within a European Free Trade Area, indicating what subjects were discussed and what results were achieved.

35. Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now make a statement on the recent discussions with the Norwegian Government on the import duties on frozen fish.

Mr. John Hare

The talks which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I had with the Norwegian Ministers of Fisheries and Commerce last month were of an exploratory character. We had a general discussion of problems relating to fish in the European Free Trade Association, but no commitments were entered into on either side. As these matters are the subject of negotiations now proceeding in Stockholm. I should prefer to postpone any further statement until these negotiations are concluded.

Mr. Hughes

Was the Secretary of State for Scotland at these conversations? Whether he was or not, were the interests of the Scottish fishing industry and fishermen considered with a view to protecting them from the ravages of this new agreement? What conclusions were arrived at with a view to protecting the Scottish fishing industry?

Mr. Hare

I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that I keep in the closest possible touch with the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Manuel

What did the right hon. Gentleman say about it?

Mr. Hare

I am also in touch with the fishing industry.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind in these negotiations the necessity for remaining firm on the question of imports of frozen fish? A great deal is now being done by the fishing industry of this country, and we do not wish to be flooded by imports of that nature?

Mr. Hare

I can assure the hon. Lady that I am bearing all these points in mind.

Mr. Willey

Whilst appreciating the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman whilst the negotiations are continuing, will he nevertheless assure the House that he will keep in touch with the industrial and commercial interests affected and inform them and consult with them as soon as possible?

Mr. Hare

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear me. I have already said that I am in close touch with the fishing industry on these matters.

Mr. Wall

Does my right hon. Friend agree that any compromise which is reached for imports of Norwegian fish to this country should be accompanied by a corresponding compromise on British trawlers fishing within Norway fishing limits?

Mr. Hare

I would rather say no more at this moment.

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