HC Deb 23 November 1960 vol 630 cc1102-3
3. Mr. Awbery

asked the Lord Privy Seal if negotiations with the Icelandic Government on the question of the extent of the fishing waters have now been completed; what agreement has been reached; and if he will make a statement on the present position.

Mr. Heath

I regret that I cannot yet add to my reply to the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) on 18th November

Mr. Awbery

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that for three years now our fishermen have been in jeopardy in the North Sea, because of the failure of our statesmen to come to an agreement on this problem? Is he aware that the Icelandic Government are meeting on Friday to discuss this problem, and will he intimate to them immediately that he is prepared to come with an open mind to discuss the question of the three-, six-and twelve-mile limit?

Mr. Heath

Discussions are in progress about this very difficult problem. Each delegation is discussing the position it has reached with its Government. I have announced that we hope to resume discussions in the near future, and as soon as a date is fixed I will inform the House.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the Minister realise that these negotiations have dragged on for so long largely because Iceland has no alternative to the fishing industry? Does not he think that it might bring the negotiations to a head if the great maritime Powers of Europe were to offer some alternative, or finance some alternative industry for the Icelandic people?

Mr. Heath

I must repeat that negotiations are proceeding. It is agreed that the delegates will meet again as soon as the actual date is fixed. We are ready to arrange the date, and as soon as it is fixed I will announce it.