§ 15. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, if he is aware of the change by North Sea fishermen to French-type fishing gear; and if he will make a statement on the extent of this, the industrial situation thus created and the steps he is taking to make French-type gear available at reasonable prices to fishermen who need it.
Financial help has been given through the White Fish Authority to trials of French gear for middle-water vessels, the results of which will be made available to the industry. I am not aware of any general change to this type of gear. The last part of the hon. and learned Member's Question does not, therefore, arise.
§ Mr. Hughes
In view of the increased efficiency of the French type of gear and its extensive use at present by French fishing boats in the North Sea, will the Minister take steps to see that British fishermen are not deprived of its use by either a shortage or a high price of gear? Would he see that funds are provided to enable British fishermen to compete on equal terms with French fishermen?
I have just told the hon. and learned Gentleman that trials are now taking place, the cost of which has been shared between the Government, the White Fish Authority and the owners concerned. We had better wait and see the result of these trials before we come to any conclusions.