HC Deb 16 May 1960 vol 623 cc915-6
38. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will discuss with the fishing industry the implications of the situation arising from the failure of the recent Geneva Conference on the Law of the Sea; and whether he will invite in advance of that discussion the views of the industry on the agenda for that discussion, so as to make it as constructive and useful as possible.

Mr. John Hare

Such discussions have already taken place and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have arranged for further talks to be held shortly.

Mr. Hughes

In view of the complications of this situation and as fishing is Iceland's only major industry, will the Minister consider asking the Great Powers to offer Iceland an inducement to settle the dispute in the form of the quid pro quo, such as offering financial help to Iceland to found alternative industries which would leave her not so completely dependent on fishing as she is at present?

Mr. Hare

In view of the obvious delicacy of these matters, I do not wish to add to what I and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs have said on the subject already.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

Does the Minister appreciate that when he last answered Questions in the House on this subject his view was that fishermen from this country should be free to go within the 12-mile limit, that British ships should stay outside the 12-mile limit, but that if British fishermen within the 12-mile limit were molested then the British ships should go to their aid? Why has he since changed his mind and why has he now asked British fishermen to keep outside the 12-mile limit? Why this appeasement?

Mr. Hare

The hon. and learned Gentleman is singularly ill-informed. If he knew about these matters, he would realise that it is the trawler owners who have issued instructions that their skippers should not go within the 12-mile limit, not the British Government. I was not in the House at the time, but I know that there was a Question on this subject answered today, and I think it is quite irrelevant that I should now be asked that on a totally different Question.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

It is quite obvious that the right hon. Gentleman was not in the House when his right hon. Friend answered the Question. Does he not realise that, in answering, his right hon. Friend stated that the Government had asked the trawler fishermen to keep outside the 12-mile limit? Will he now answer my Question?

Mr. Hare

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will inform himself a little more about what is happening and put a Question down on the Order Paper, I shall be delighted to answer.

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