HC Deb 26 January 1961 vol 633 cc311-2
3. Mr. Hayman

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware of the losses caused to shell fishermen of Porthleven by the action of Her Majesty's Government in prohibiting fishing in a specified area of Mounts Bay in June, 1960; what he proposes to do to secure full indemnity for these fishermen; and what action he will take to prevent such losses in future.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Christopher Soames)

Yes, Sir. The Admiralty has agreed to settle the fishermen's claim for damage to gear caused by Her Majesty's ships, but I am afraid that those for loss of earnings could not be admitted. Naval exercises inside territorial waters or in known fishing grounds are discussed beforehand with local interests, particularly the fishermen, in order to ensure that the least possible damage and inconvenience is caused. This procedure was followed in this case.

Mr. Hayman

Will the Minister bear in mind that the Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee considers this attitude of the Admiralty, and indeed of himself, to be very retrograde, because nothing is being paid for loss of earnings, and indeed only two claims for damage for lost gear have been allowed and in each case the amount claimed has been drastically reduced? Will he consider this again with the Admiralty and stand up to the Admiralty for the benefit of the fishermen?

Mr. Soames

We supported the fishermen's claims to the Admiralty for loss of gear. The position on the other aspect, loss of earnings, is well understood, and it has been going on for a long time. Her Majesty's ships have to do their exercises in home waters, and when they do we take full steps to ensure that the least possible inconvenience is caused.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this matter has been raised previously with regard to compensation? Is it a fact that the Admiralty has cut down the compensation claims by 50 per cent. in each case?

Mr. Soames

I am afraid I cannot give an answer to that supplementary question without notice. I will certainly look into it.

Mr. Hayman

On a point of order. I give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the first opportunity, because I consider the Minister's attitude and the Admiralty's attitude completely unsatisfactory.

Mr. Speaker

I must ask hon. Members to adhere to the traditional formula.