§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 28, at the end, to insert: 224(5) The definition of "white fish" in subsection (5) of the said section five shall be extended so as to include shell fish.
§ The Chairman
I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss also the next Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hay-man), in page 2, line 42, at the end to insert, "as amended by this section" and the Amendments to Clause 33, page 27, line 36, to leave out from "fish" to "has" in line 37, and to the Second Schedule, page 37, line 15, at the end to insert:(4) In subsection (5) of that section, in the definition of "white fish", the words "does not include shell fish, but except as aforesaid" shall be omitted.
§ Mr. Hayman
Thank you, Sir William. I should, first, express our gratitude to the Minister for agreeing to permit these items to be discussed at this stage. I was not a member of the Standing Committee, but had a great interest in its proceedings, particularly concerning shellfish. These four Amendments deal with shellfish and refer to Section 5 of the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1953, which provides thatthe appropriate Minister may, in accordance with a scheme made by the Ministers with the approval of the Treasury, make grants to the owners or charterers of fishing vessels engaged in catching such fish … of such amounts, and subject to such conditions, as may be determined by or under the scheme.Subsection (2) of Section 5, as amended by the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1957, provides that the scheme may provide for the payment of grants in the case of any vessel in respect of white fish landed from the vessel in the United Kingdom, voyages made by the vessel for the purpose of catching such fish and landing them in the United Kingdom or for certain other matters to be specified in the scheme. Subsection (5) of Section 5 of the 1953 Act defines white fish so as to exclude shellfish.
§ Clause 1 of the Sea Fish Industry Bill seeks to extend the scope and the duration of the white fish and herring subsidies and in effect makes amendments in Sections in the Acts of 1953 and 1957 and subsection (7) of that Clause applies the definition of white fish in Section 5 of the Act of 1953. The Second Schedule to the Bill contains a series of consequential amendments of enactments, 225 including a number of amendments to the White Fish and Herring Industries Act, 1953. An amendment to the First Schedule to the Bill in Standing Committee, the effect of which was to extend Section 5 of the Act of 1953 so as to include shell fish was ruled out of order on the technical ground that Clause 1 applied the definition in Section 5 of the Act of 1953 and that as the Committee had already approved Clause 1 the amendment was seeking to alter something to which the Committee had already agreed.
§ The first question is whether the Amendments we are now discussing would, if accepted by this Committee, widen the scope of the Money Resolution. I am assured by the Association of Sea Fisheries Committees of England and Wales that that would not be so. The subsidy, if granted for shellfish, would amount to about £50,000 a year and could be absorbed by the total sum envisaged by the Government under this Bill.
I need not stress how important this concession to the shell fishermen would be. Clause 33, the Interpretation Clause, reads:
'sea-fish' means fish of any description Sound in the sea, including shell fish …".
It also says that
' fishing-boat' means a vessel of whatever size, and in whatever way propelled, which is for the time being employed in sea fishing;
§ I understand that the position is that boats which are used both for shell fishing and for other fishing purposes qualify for a boat building subsidy. But the shell fishermen are exceptional in being denied a subsidy on the first hand sale of catches. Middle waters and distant waters are fished by great trawlers, owned by companies worth considerable sums of money, which qualify for the subsidy. In the main, however, the shellfish industry is carried on by small boats and often by individual families or men.
§ I know Cornwall best of all, and there we have not far short of 300 miles of rocky coast. These men have to battle with Atlantic gales and other hazards to earn their living. Yet they are among the best type of fishermen—indeed, among the best type of men. To deprive them of this financial assistance—they are the only group in our fishing industry who are so denied—is very harsh treatment.226
§ Their craft are small and they are particularly liable to gale damage. True, the Fleck Committee did not recommend that the subsidy should be extended to the shell fishermen, but 1 suggest that it had in mind the shell fishermen of Scotland and Northern Ireland rather than the shell fishermen of England and Wales.
§ The total value of shellfish landings in 1959 was about £2 million. Of that total, about £1 million was accounted for by lobster and crab. But Norway lobsters fetched about £400,000, or 20 per cent. of the total value of the shellfish catch. Yet Norway lobster fishing is confined to Scottish and Northern Irish fishermen, who catch fish by trawl and seine net. Nor do they use inshore vessels.
§ Mr. John M. Temple (City of Chester)
Can the hon. Gentleman help the Committee by giving the figure for shrimps? Does he include shrimps in the Amendment?
§ Mr. Hayman
Yes, they are included in the Amendment. Details about shrimps are given in the Fleck Report, but I have not got them with me.
Although the total production of lobster and crab for the United Kingdom is about £1 million, imports of canned crab in 1959 were worth £2,700,000. In Cornwall, at least, the shellfish industry has to deal with considerable fishing—if not depredations—by the French crabbing fleet. These French craft are often fishing within the three-mile limit off our coast. I am told that fleets of up to 50 French crabbers are often around the Cornish coast.
I have said that our shell fishermen are exposed to all the hazards of the sea. As hon. Members who were here will remember, at Question Time yesterday I was told that crabbers who fish off Lundy Island are likely to be fired on. Apparently, however, I cannot put a Question on this to any Minister because, as the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said yesterday, this is a police matter and the county police do not come under the jurisdiction of the Home Secretary. I am at a loss at the moment to know how we can ask the Chief Constable of Devonshire why no action has been taken about his firing off Lundy. But I must not pursue that matter now.
227 I draw attention again to the fact that the country relies on our local fishermen to man the lifeboats. Every time we read of a vessel in danger at sea we feel a pang of sympathy for those involved, and we naturally expect the nearest lifeboat to go out, no matter what the danger. Indeed, we naturally expect that the men will be there to take her out. But unless the Minister is prepared to relent on this issue, the day may very well come, particularly round the Cornish coast, when there will be nobody to man the lifeboats and more lives will be lost at sea.
I beg the Minister to be generous to these men. They are a fine body of men carrying on a traditional industry. They are men on whom the country relies in time of danger. The total amount of this subsidy for the shellfish industry would be £50,000 and could be found within the general fund at his disposal.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
Having listened to the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) speaking to this Amendment, I must say that I move along the very same lines as he has. He has really dealt with everything there is to deal with on the Amendment. I have an idea that he will agree with what 1 am going to say, that I very much regret that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) is not with us this afternoon—
§ Mr. Marshall
—because, looking back on the many speeches I have made in this Chamber about the fishing industry, I notice that the number of the speeches I have made about the shellfish industry has been remarkably small, whereas my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives has again and again stressed this point.
What I should like to put to my right hon. Friend is this. He cannot really be influenced by the principle of subsidy, otherwise we should not be dealing with this Bill at all. The principle of subsidy is in the Bill. Therefore, that is not a reason why he would be against the Amendment. I am wondering whether part of the reason may be that he still considers that in some way or other shellfish is a luxury which people from 228 time to time eat. If this be so, then, quite frankly, I think that he is out of date.
I think that this may have been so some years ago, but with the standard of living which we have at the present, and of which, I hope, we are all justly proud, people do from time to time wish to have crab and lobster. They are natural dishes for the people of these islands to eat. Therefore, I cannot see why the fishermen who specialise in this particular form of fishing should be penalised by comparison with those who specialise in other directions.
It is very simple to see, talking in national terms, that the sum involved is very small indeed. It is estimated that the total amount which is likely to be required is about £50,000. I would be prepared to go even as far as treating only for the fishermen who fish for lobster and crab, if the Minister felt inclined to put an Amendment down to deal only with lobsters and crabs, but he has not done this, and, therefore, we are dealing with the present Amendment, which covers all forms of shellfish.
I hope that even at this late hour in our consideration of the Bill the Minister will think again about it. I am quite sure that he fully realises that most of those who have anything to do with the shellfish industry have small boats and are what are known as very small units. To them, therefore, this Amendment means a very great deal.
The hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne mentioned the enormous value that these men are to the nation in manning lifeboats. I should not like the Minister to forget that during both of the late wars they also served us in another very valuable way. They knew all the "holes" of the sea and could tell more about them than could be known from the charts. This was of enormous invisible value to us when we were at war.
I plead again with the Minister to reconsider this whole matter, to agree to this Amendment to the Bill, and to treat these fishermen in exactly the same way as he is treating the rest of the fishing industry.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
I should like to support everything which my hon. Friend the Member 229 for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) has said on behalf of the fishermen in the inshore areas around his own constituency as well as mine. I recognise that this is not purely a constituency matter, as many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have a very particular and very personal interest in the welfare of these small operators, if I may so call them. What the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Marshall) has just said would be endorsed by every hon. Member on this side, and I hope that the Minister will try to bring in these smaller people in the smaller places.
§ The Amendment is important from many points of view. It has always been declared Government policy to maintain the population in these areas which are most threatened by depopulation, largely because they are small places, and because they depend on industries which in turn are at the mercy of weather and climate and all sorts of conditions beyond their control. This is an industry in which one can do only so much planning and then nature takes over and frequently upsets all the calculations; and does so far more than it does even in agriculture. The least we can do is to draw attention to the special difficulties of what are, after all, very special little communities with special problems of their own.
§ The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin has just referred to two things, one of which my hon. Friend referred to before he did. One was the fact that these are men upon whom we depend for manning the lifeboat services. That is, of course, true. One has only to listen to radio reports, during the winter months particularly, to know what that means. It means that these men are called out at all hours, usually in the deep of the night, to do an almost impossible and dangerous job of work. There is no substitute for their service—no substitute for it at all. One cannot on a national scale organise what these men do. One cannot organise from large centres. It has got to be based upon these little local communities and the good will and willingness of the men concerned to give their voluntary services.
§ Then the hon. Gentleman mentioned also, I think, the fact that we depend upon the fishing communities right round our coasts and the islands off them for 230 recruiting to the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy as well. That is true in peace time, as well as in war. It is men from the very same families who man the Merchant Navy who man the Royal Navy to a large extent, and, in war time particularly, the Royal Naval Reserve. It is on these lobster and other fishermen that we so much depend; and I am talking about the lobster fishermen in particular because it is in a large part of my own constituency mainly a lobster industry.
§ I remember a Minister in a Conservative Government in 1938, shortly before the war, giving me some figures about the number of the recruits who were drawn to the R.N.R. from the Hebrides, from the Western Isles, alone. The Leader of the House will confirm those figures if nobody else can, because he has a special interest in and knowledge of that area. That Minister said that 25 per cent. of the total recruitment of the R.N.R. in 1938 came from the Western Isles alone. That is quite a considerable strategic consideration. I hope that the Minister will have that in mind, also.
§ Then there is the cash side. As my hon. Friend quite rightly said, this is a very small bite out of the very large global total sum. I am quite sure that if there were a referendum of all the fishermen, of all the men in the industry and of all the interests in the industry, there would be an overwhelming "Aye" in favour of this Amendment. As I have said before, the men who sail in the drifters and trawlers and Seine net boats, and who man the lobster boats, are very often from the same families, and there is a brotherhood among them all. I am quite sure that if it were left to the industry itself there is no doubt that this small bite of the big total would be very gladly allocated in favour of those men who carry on the shellfish industry.
§ This is not entirely a narrowly inshore industry in the sense in which small-line fishing was. These men go out from my constituency right away to Rona and the Flannan Isles, the Monachs and the rest, sometimes for weeks at a time. They base themselves—to take one case—on the Island Bernera off the west of Lewis, and they go away for weeks at a time. Part 231 of their catch may be landed at their little home port, or it may be taken straight across the Minch, when they have a big enough catch, to be landed at Ullapool or Mallaig. These are quite long voyages, and especially bearing in mind the size of the vessels and the size of the enterprise, correspond to quite a fair middle-water voyage. An expedition by quite small boats from a village on the west of Lewis to go fishing for weeks at a time, and then take the catch right across the North Minch to the railhead or the roadhead, is quite an undertaking in itself. These voyages are comparable in length to those made by some much larger vessels. I hope that the Minister will also keep that in mind.
§ My hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne mentioned the advantages which the French and particularly the Breton crews and vessels have at times over our own fishermen, who labour under many disadvantages. It is because they labour under these disadvantages that we think it grossly unfair that they should also be discriminated against in the Bill, which will be the case if the Amendment is not made. The Bretons, French and Belgians come right among the fishing grounds of the Hebrides, and well within the limit, and there is nothing to stop them taking all the berried and small lobsters which our fishermen are not allowed to take. They whip them off to their own home ports and get rid of them there.
§ I am sure that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland would say that nothing of that kind could possibly happen as long as he is watching with his fishery protection fleet, but one of the most blatant offences by a French vessel was caught up with only the other day at Stornoway. This is among the discouragements and difficulties which our own fishermen have to face and under which their foreign competitors do not labour, this restriction on size and other factors.
§ The refusal of this tiny bit of the global financial gesture to the industry as a whole means that the Minister would not be looked upon with great kindness and would do nothing to add to his reputation for seeing to the best interests 232 of the fishermen. We are more concerned about these local people than we are about the bigger fellows who are able to organise a lobby of their own, especially on the benches opposite.
§ Winter has a habit of recurring about the same time every year.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)
All the year.
§ Mr. MacMillan
If the right hon. Gentleman is thinking of my constituency, he is perfectly right. It is practically all the year, though I should not damage the tourist industry by saying so.
It is unfortunate that during certain months men cannot follow the lobster fishing industry. They have to pack up for the time being and there is little else to which they can turn their hands. Because they are not fishing, they not only lose their income but the right to unemployment benefit. Just because winter occurs roughly at the same time every year a pattern of employment and unemployment is set. The Leader of the House knows all about the operation of the seasonal regulations affecting fishermen's unemployment benefit, which has not changed since he was Minister of Labour. It is absurd, but it is another disability under which these men labour.
Again, these men usually work in outlying areas and places far away from their markets. Their products have to face competition from big ports further south and foreign sources and they face the heavy burden of freight charges which no other area has to carry. If we were to add to all these natural and other difficulties, and their very real and special problems, by the injustice of leaving them out of the benefits of the Bill, under which more happily placed interests will be a great deal better off, it would be a reflection upon the Minister and the House. I hope that for the sake of the good name of the House, and of hon. Members of all parties, the Minister will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Denys Bullard (King's Lynn)
I hope that, if it is at all possible for him to do so, my right hon. Friend will accept the Amendment. The hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) has said that this is a constituency matter. It is to the extent that 233 those of us who have shell fishing interests in and around our constituencies are anxious to urge acceptance of the Amendment, but I look upon it primarily as a matter of justice between one class of fishermen and another.
In my experience of the operation of the shellfish industry round the Norfolk coast, and of the many boats which put out from King's Lynn and the small Norfolk coast towns, I can well understand the feeling of fishermen there when they see others receiving subsidies for which they do not qualify. Recently, in the Port of King's Lynn, large quantities of sprats have been landed. These are subject to subsidy, but much of the catch has had to go to manufacture as manure because of the lack of any other market. Shell fishermen have seen this happen while they have been unable to obtain a subsidy for their own catches which are sold as very good human food.
Whelk fishermen on the Norfolk coast have suffered damage to their gear from trawlers which come from other ports. Those vessels receive subsidies for their catches while the small operators in the whelk fishing industry receive no recompense either for their losses or for the fact that they do not receive a subsidy. It seems to me, therefore, that, in justice, we cannot give a subsidy to one class of fishermen and not to the other.
I sincerely hope that for the sake of that justice my right hon. Friend will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
My hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) is to be congratulated upon moving the Amendment, which seeks to provide aid for an important section of the fishing industry. I hope that the Minister has now been convinced by my hon. Friend's argument and by the fact that it has been reinforced by my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan), my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Marshall) and my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bullard), who represent constituencies where shell fishing plays an important part.
I think that the case has been made out and I hope that the Minister will give us a sympathetic answer. We are discussing a Bill which involves the 234 spending of several millions of pounds. The House has approved in principle the giving of aid to the trawler industry, the white fish industry and the herring industry, and for the establishment of ice-making factories. The amount of money proposed to be spent on aid to inshore fishing will be only about £50,000 a year. This is a small amount, but it is important in view of the nature of the industry.
I should like to quote what has become the "Bible" of the fishing industry, the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Fishing Industry, known as the Fleck Report, which, in paragraph 159, states:Inshore fishermen have a virtual monopoly of shellfish catching and it is natural to look to the expansion of these fisheries for a substantial improvement in the industry's economic circumstances although it provides a relatively small part of their total income at present.In other words, the Fleck Committee looked to the shellfish industry to develop and to make an important contribution to the resources of our inshore fisherman.
The hon. Member for Bodmin said that he would not mind if the Minister limited this provision to lobsters and crabs. I hope that we shall not limit this as narrowly as that. I am surprised that the hon. Member should be so selfish. He has generally taken a broad view in regard to the shellfish industry. I hope that the Minister will heed the pleas that have been made, and will provide aid for this part of the industry.
The hon. Gentleman also asked whether shrimps would be included. I hope that they will be. In my constituency there is the port of Maryport, where the shrimp industry plays a part in what I admit is a small industry, but it provides an important revenue for some of my inshore fishermen. Silloth and Whitehaven can also be important to the shrimp industry. The Fleck Committee set out in a table the details of shellfish landings, and lists a great variety of shellfish—lobsters, crabs, nephrops, oysters, mussels, squids, escallops, shrimps, whelks, cockles, and so on.
I hope that the Minister will give a favourable reply to the case that has been made for assistance to be given to 235 these men. As has been said, they face great difficulties. My hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles referred to the distance they are from markets, and the problem of freight charges with which they have to contend. These fishermen face graver difficulties than are experienced in those parts of the industry to which we are giving aid.
Reference has also been made to the fact that these are invariably the men who man our lifeboats, and, when needed, make their contribution to the Royal Navy. I hope that the Minister will be generous. After all, £50,000 is a small amount compared with the total aid that we are providing. I hope that the Minister will accept the Amendment which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne.
§ Mr. J. M. L. Prior (Lowestoft)
As 1 understand it, this Amendment is permissive, it is concerned with not more than £50,000 a year, and this is the last opportunity that we shall have for ten years to discuss this matter. I think, therefore, that this is a good opportunity to spend a little time discussing this small but, for all that, important section of the industry.
It is perhaps a good thing that the House of Commons should from time to time turn its attentions to discussing a few men who are doing a vital job. In these days of the "big battalions," and when perhaps the Conservative Party is under some criticism for allowing the big man to get away with things and not clamping down on him as much as it should, this is perhaps a good opportunity for the Government to show that they have the interests of the little man at heart. By looking after his interests here, they would not only be helping a small minority but would be helping to keep alive the great tradition that we have as a seafaring nation.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will accept the Amendment. The sum involved is not very large. It is not something that will arouse great controversy in the country as another addition to the subsidy bill. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be generous; that he will assure us that the subsidy 236 will be capable of administration; and that it will be given only to bona fide fishermen. Provided that that can be done—and I am certain that it can be—I hope that my right hon. Friend will accept the Amendment. If he does not, I shall have no course available other than to support it, because I do not believe that there is any reason why the Government should not look at this matter generously and help this small section of the community.
§ Mr. Anthony Crosland (Grimsby)
I support the Amendment on grounds which are rather different from those advanced so far. I support it mainly because since the introduction of commercial television the party opposite and the Government have done nothing except destroy what little there is left of our national heritage. They did nothing to save the Coal Exchange, or the Doric Arch. They have done nothing to prevent the spread of cities to the countryside. They have done nothing to prevent the spread of surburban bungalows into the countryside, and, in general, they have done nothing to prevent the destruction of what is left of our national heritage.
§ The Chairman
Order. I am sorry to stop the hon. Member, but this has nothing to do with shellfish.
§ Mr. Crosland
I was coming to shellfish, Sir William.
One cannot deal in isolation with the simple economic case of a subsidy for shellfish. For the middle and distant waiter fleets the case for a subsidy is primarily economic. Most of us accept the view that the capital investment of these fleets must alter in shape, size, and direction if they are to compete in the next ten years.
The case for a subsidy for the shellfish industry, on the other hand, is primarily social. The small shellfish ports are part of our national heritage, and this, to my mind, is an overwhelming reason for subsidising them. The fact is that I do not share the prejudices of my hon. Friends against Breton fishermen. I have no prejudices as between Breton fishermen and fishermen from Britain. I have only one interest, that in Scotland, in Brittany, and elsewhere in Europe, there should still be large numbers of small ports which concentrate 237 on shellfish, and, I believe, add something to our national life as a whole.
It is not merely that these fishermen are brave people. I accept that. It is not merely that they man the lifeboats. I accept that, too. It is not merely that they serve the country during war. I accept that. I do not regard these as adequate reasons for providing a subsidy. The adequate reason for a subsidy is that if these small ports are not helped they will gradually be overwhelmed and this traditional form of social life will disappear. It would be very damaging if this happened, and I am sorry that I come back to the point about the damage which has been done to the British countryside during the last ten years.
§ Mr. Crosland
I simply say, by way of analogy, that having seen a great deal of damage done in other directions, I do not want to see this large number of fishing ports in Britain or Brittany disappear, because I believe that they add a sort of outlet for the rest of the country, which is extremely healthy. I have a constituency interest in this matter. In Grimsby, we fish for crab on a small scale, but this is not my main reason for intervening in the discussion. I am concerned about the future of this type of small port, which is now threatened, if the Government do nothing to help it.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
The fishing industry is very diverse, extending at one end of the scale to large distant water trawlers and at the other end to the type of vessel which we are discussing in this Amendment—small open vessels for catching shellfish. It is because my own constituency interest is in the distant waters fleet that I want to make a brief appeal to the Minister on this Amendment.
It seems to me that if this is the only type of vessel in the industry that will be unsubsidised there must be a very good reason for this decision. I agree that, in principle, one does not want to extend the whole idea of subsidies; indeed, the basic principle behind this Bill is that of getting rid of subsidies over a period of years. However, the 238 point has been made on several occasions that these vessels do not fish for luxury foods.
If we import over £3 million worth of shellfish in one year, and we fish only £1 million worth ourselves there is a good case for supporting our own industry. The social need has been very well stressed by a number of hon. Members, and so has the rising cost of these vessels, the cost of the gear, and the damage caused to the fishing gear by other vessels, to which reference was made by the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Marshall). This happens because foreign trawlers still come within the three-mile limit. I have seen the accounts of one Yorkshire firm concerned, and I noticed that practically every week there were sums of £50 to £100 for damage to nets and other gear. This is the case that I was trying to make to the Minister the other day about the extension of the three-mile limit to six miles, but I shall probably be ruled out of order if I pursue that point now.
There is surely a case for treating this section of the industry in the same way as other sections, it may be on grounds of social need, more than on grounds economic need, but we also have to realise the fact that this Amendment will cost very little. In addition to that, the power is permissive. If the Amendment were accepted, it would not automatically mean that the Minister has to go to the Treasury to get funds in order to subsidise this section of the industry. It is wholly permissive. All we are asking is that this part of the industry should be included under the same umbrella which covers all the other parts of the industry. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Soames
Very considerable arguments have been put forward from both sides of the Committee in favour of the Amendment. They divide themselves into two, one economic and on the grounds of justice, as it were, and the other, put forward by the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), who said that he would not like to see the disappearance of these delightful small fishing ports scattered round our coasts. 239 Perhaps I could deal with the arguments in that order.
First, on the economic grounds, the question is whether it is likely that what appeared to the hon. Member for Grimsby to be the danger will come about. As my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) has just said, the Amendment is permissive. If we accepted it, it would not make it incumbent upon the Government to give a subsidy to the shell fishermen, but I think that all those who have spoken would feel that it would not be right for the Government to accept the Amendment, permissive as it may be, unless we were intending to give a subsidy to the shell fishermen, because by the mere fact of accepting the Amendment, all those who take part in shell fishing would believe that this is what it would mean, and that a subsidy was likely to be forthcoming. I do not think it would be right to harp on that aspect of the matter.
There has been a subsidy to inshore fishermen for ten years or more—since 1950—and there has never yet been a subsidy paid to the shell fishermen. Arguments have taken place as between the Government and the supporters of the shell fishermen over this period of ten years. The Government have always held the view that the case had not been made on economic grounds that it was necessary for the Government to subsidise the shell fishing industry. A subsidy is not something which has to be given to everybody just because we give it to some people, and the case has not been made on economic grounds that it is necessary to give a subsidy to shell fishermen.
Over the years, there have been many debates not dissimilar to the one we have had this afternoon, and when the Fleck Committee was set up it was asked specifically to look into this question. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) referred to what the Fleck Committee has said, and, as the Committee knows, it did not recommend a subsidy. On the economic argument, the shellfish industry is a part of the inshore fishing industry, and we must ask ourselves to what extent shellfish are a vital part of the inshore catch. The inshore fishing industry receives a catching subsidy, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin 240 and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman), who moved the Amendment, made powerful speeches on behalf of the shell fishermen as individuals who are part of the inshore fishing fleet. A large number of them catch white fish as well, and they can draw a subsidy for the white fish part of their catches.
Many of the inshore fishermen do not catch shellfish at all, and there are a lot Who depend very largely on white fish for their income. It is true that there are quite a number of specialist shell fishermen who do not benefit from the white fish or herring subsidies, and it has been argued by several hon. Members that a subsidy should be introduced to assist this specialist section. In this case, the figures of production over the past few years—and here I come to the point made by the hon. Member for Grimsby, for they do not lead one to believe that what he fears is likely without a subsidy—tell a not unsatisfactory story.
We do not have profit and loss figures for this section of the industry, because, unlike others, where the amount of the subsidy is affected by profit and loss, we have not called for them, but the fact remains that the total landings of shellfish have increased from about 430,000 cwt. to over 550,000 cwt. over the last ten years. I know that this is not shared equally, so to speak, among all ports. A lot of this increase is made up of Nephrops of which large quantities have been caught in recent years. Landings of Norwegian lobsters, crabs and cockles have increased, whereas the landings of lobsters and mussels have remained comparatively steady. These figures do not seem to indicate that this section of the industry was declining through lack of success, which is the point about which the hon. Gentleman was anxious.
Moreover, shell fishermen have already got some measure of Government help, because this section receives the rebates on fuel, and is eligible for loans and grants for new vessels and new engines under the existing provisions, which we are proposing to extend in this Bill. Further, the necessary arrangements are being made for the inshore fishermen—including shell fishermen—to obtain loans for secondhand vessels, where suitable. This will be a help.
241 Moreover, shellfish enjoy a greater degree of tariff protection than does white fish. The tariffs on most forms of fresh shellfish amount to as much as 30 per cent. Therefore, although I agree that powerful arguments may be made to the contrary, it would not be right to say that the specialist shellfish sections of the inshore industry are devoid of any Government help or protection. These are facts which the Fleck Committee took into account at our special request. We specifically told it that all these arguments had been taking place in the House of Commons over the years, and we asked it to look at the matter and to give us its impartial advice. We said, "These are the views that we have held. You know the views of the shell fishermen. Go into this matter and advise us."
Paragraph 359 of the Fleck Committee Report says:We are not satisfied however that a case has been made out for the introduction of a shellfish subsidy.In the light of that Committee's confirmation of the policy adopted by the Government we should not think it right at this time, with the figures that we have available in relation to the amount of shellfish being caught, and viewing the matter against the background of the Bill, to grant special subsidies.
These arguments have been going on for many years, but we have not seen the end of subsidies for the fishing fleet as a whole. The Bill is the beginning of waning subsidies to the trawler fleets. The inshore fleet is in a somewhat different category, but nevertheless we hope to be able to run this down over a period too. This is not the moment at which we would think it right to take these permissive powers. We see no need, at present, for a shellfish subsidy. If, in the years ahead, the Government thought it right to pay a subsidy for shell fish we would immediately seek powers to do so. In view of the feelings expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, I do not believe that we should find it difficult to obtain those powers.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
To a large extent I accept the argument which the right hon. Gentleman is advancing. The only point 242 on which I have some doubts concern the permissive powers. Whenever we have asked for any information about the economics of any section of the industry the right hon. Gentleman has been able to give us all that we wanted—even, in some cases, the losses per vessel per year. But the same amount of information does not seem to be available in respect of this section of the industry. That being the case, would it not be better if the right hon. Gentleman accepted these permissive powers, so that if it was afterwards ascertained that the figures were against the shellfish industry he could exercise those powers, whereas if the figures were found to be in favour of the industry he would not have to use them?
§ Mr. Soames
We do not need permissive powers in order to discover the economic facts within the shellfish industry. I think that I carry the Committee with me when I say that it would not be right to seek permissive powers to pay a subsidy until the moment has come when the Government have decided so to do. These are the arguments which lead me to ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. Soames
No, Sir. It would mean fresh legislation, but the Bill would not need to be of a considerable size.
§ Mr. Hoy
I find the Minister's reply very disappointing. His arguments are not very sound. I would remind the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bullard) that we are dealing here not with a question of granting a subsidy to one section and not to another, but with the fact that a subsidy is being paid to every section of the fishing industry except this one.
§ Mr. Bullard
That is exactly my point. What the hon. Member is saying is not contrary to what I am saying.
§ Mr. Hoy
I only wanted to make it clear that every section—and not one—was receiving a subsidy, except this one.
243 The Minister said that we had not called for a balance sheet from the shellfish industry, and he argues that because we do not have a balance sheet we are unable to arrive at a very sound judgment in the matter. He says that in that case he is entitled to use figures to show that the catch is rising. He is aware that the distant-water fleet receives substantial subsidies, amounting to millions of pounds, without the provision of balance sheets. No balance sheets were produced to justify the payment of a subsidy to that fleet. The Minister said that the distant-water fleet had lost certain fishing grounds and that it might have to develop a new type of vessel, and that the fleet would be compensated by the payment of a subsidy, but no balance sheet was brought forward to underline the necessity for the payment of the subsidies.
We have only to look at the balance sheets and the dividends declared recently to know that it would have been exceptionally difficult to prove a case of need on the part of the distant water fleet. The Fleck Committee Report is always being quoted in this respect. Paragraph 160 of the Report says this about lobsters and crabs:The fisheries for both lobsters and crabs are larger than before the war, and both species are found all round the coast, lobsters being of particular importance in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are said to be under-exploited stocks on the western coasts, and marketing and transport difficulties are the main obstacles to further expansion.If that were the case the Minister might have paid a subsidy to this section of the industry, as he has done in the case of the distant-water fleet, so that it might exploit these underexploited areas and develop transport, and so get over the difficulties which are preventing expansion.
It is these areas—whether they be in Cornwall or in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan)—which are calling out for development of industry. If this situation exists the Minister, without calling for a balance sheet, ought to make it possible for these areas to be exploited and to deal with the transport problems.
I want the Minister to be aware of the feeling in the Committee on this 244 matter. This is a very small section of the industry. No one would pretend that it is a tremendously important part of the industry, but it is very important to those areas where it provides employment. My hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) did well to remind us of the part that these men are expected to play in the social life of our community. They are expected to face great dangers, and the past winter has given them and their families much cause for concern. I would have thought that the Government would go out of their way to make a gesture to these areas and to find a reason for assisting them, preserving them, and, where possible, expanding the industries from which they derive their livelihood.
In every possible way the argument in favour of the Amendment has been overwhelming. Not a single hon. Member, on either side of the Committee, has done other than support the Amendment. In view of the very disappointing reply of the Minister and the overwhelming case which has been made for the Amendment, my hon. Friends and I will be bound to divide the Committee on this issue. We believe that the Minister's argument has done nothing to meet the case we have made. That leaves us with no alternative but to divide the Committee. We shall watch with interest to see if the votes of hon. Members opposite follow their voices.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Edwin Wainwright (Dearne Valley)
When he spoke of the economic position of the shellfish industry, the Minister was probably aware that 40 per cent. of the crabs caught around our shores are caught by Yorkshire fishermen. There is a possibility that because they are Yorkshiremen they are good hard-headed businessmen and that could be a reason for their financial success.
Nevertheless, when the Minister compares the economic position of other sections of the fishing industry with the shellfish section, he should realise that, in spite of the subsidies given to some of the sections, as was reported in the Evening News on 13th December, 1961, a 12s. per share efficiency bid was let slip. It was a take-over bid by Sir Hugh Fraser of one of the very important sections of the industry.
245 We as a nation make a contribution to industries of this kind although they are making a profit. It does not behove the Minister to compare the economic position of the shellfish industry with that of the White fish industry. The shellfish industry needs looking into more deeply. It is essential to make it efficient. We import large quantities of shellfish. We should develop our industry so that it may be efficient and cope with the needs and supply the demands of the people for shellfish.
Most of these are family concerns. The Government are not very much interested in the large firms. I appreciated what was said by the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bullard), who spoke in favour of the Amendment. The farming industry gets plenty of subsidy from the Government. In that industry there are some large business firms, yet the small shell fishermen are not to be helped because it is thought that they make a profit. Figures are not published and, therefore, we are not sure what the profit is.
In Standing Committee we discussed the shellfish industry and what should be done about cleaning shellfish beds. We discussed whether money should be paid for that. We should develop the industry as a whole and help these people in small ports to maintain full employment in their areas. The amount of £50,000 in relation to the whole of the industry is very small. It would not be necessary for the whole amount to be used. It would not be necessary to grant all the money, but it could be there if it were needed.
The Minister ought to change his attitude towards the Amendment. He has been threatened by some of his hon. Friends that they will vote against him. He ought to accept their advice, apart from accepting the advice of hon. Members on this side of the Committee. We should make certain that the industry shall be efficient in future. It may run into the danger of overfishing certain of the grounds. That would lead to a reduction in the amount of shellfish later available to the nation. Looked at from that angle, it will be seen that we should make this grant. I hope that the Minister will change his mind and accept the Amendment. If he did, it would be for the benefit of the industry as a whole. 246 The Government are not entitled to give benefits to a large section of the fishing industry and leave out the smaller brother.
§ Commander Anthony Courtney (Harrow, East)
I find myself taking a contrary opinion to most hon. Members in the Committee and supporting the Minister in opposing the Amendment. The fact that I have no constituency interest in it may have something to do with that, for the majority of hon. Members present have a constituency interest. Both the hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) based the first part of their argument in favour of the Amendment on the rather curious statement that when all the other sections have a subsidy the one section left out should also have it.
§ Mr. Wainwright
Would the hon. and gallant Member say that the flourishing farm should have no farming subsidy? Would he say that the flourishing section of the fishing industry should have no subsidy? I would probably go along with him in that argument.
§ Commander Courtney
If the hon. Member will allow me to develop my argument he will see what I mean.
This is the weakest possible argument for the Amendment at a time when the national financial position should urge us all to resist subsidy wherever possible. I should have thought that more of my hon. Friends would have opposed this Amendment on those grounds.
The second argument advanced by the hon. Member for Leith went back to a paragraph of the Fleck Committee Report in controverting what the Minister has said and suggesting that the lobster and crab section needed a subsidy in order to develop and to provide all the fringe benefits described by the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) as connected with a flourishing shellfish industry. May I remind the hon. Member for Leith of another reference to crabs and lobsters made in the Report?
§ Mr. Soames indicated dissent.
§ Commander Courtney
If I understood the hon. Member to say that the subsidy was necessary to the lobster and crab industry to facilitate its growth, I refer him to paragraph 359 of the Report, which says quite clearly:we consider that … the development of the lobster and crab fisheries in particular is likely to proceed without the added stimulus of an operational subsidy.The Minister based his argument largely on the Fleck Committee Report. In that Report, we have it clearly stated that the subsidy should be granted to all the other sections of the fishing industry and that the shellfish industry should be specifically left out. Although the arguments of the hon. Member for Grimsby appeal to me, they do not invalidate my right hon. Friend's arguments. I therefore oppose the Amendment.
§ Mr. Loughlin
Although in Committee I spoke at most of the sittings on practically every aspect of the fishing industry, I have not so far spoken on shellfish, because I know so little about it. I take the point of view expressed by the Minister by implication, namely, that before subsidies are paid to any industry or any section of an industry the need for the subsidy proposed to be paid should be clearly established. It is essential for the shellfish side of the industry to establish a case for subsidies on economic grounds.
It is of no great moment to me that subsidies are being paid to every other section of the industry, whether they make out an economic case or not. That is the Minister's policy. The Minister says that he opposes the proposed subsidy because an economic case has not been made out. It may well be true that an economic case has not been made out, but when I posed the question to the Minister he was not able to give the economic position of this section of the industry.
248 This is recommittal. Hon. Members on both sides have strongly expressed the view, not that the Minister should give subsidies to this section of the industry, but that he should take to himself permissive powers. That is the simple issue. If the case were being argued that the Minister should give subsidies to this section of the industry without this section being able to establish economic need, I should oppose it. However, hon. Members have not so urged. All hon. Members who have spoken, with the notable exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney), who has the saving grace of being able to advance most nasty arguments with the most pleasant smile, have opposed the Minister's point of view.
It is true that if the Minister took permissive powers this section of the industry would read into his action the almost automatic payment of subsidies to itself. However, if in taking permissive powers the Minister made the categorical statement from the Dispatch Box that, if it were proved that these subsidies were not economically justified to this section of the industry he would not exercise his permissive powers, this section of the industry could not expect anything to be done if the economic position did not justify it.
Providing that the Minister makes that statement, there is no earthly reason why he should not take these permissive powers to himself. We could get bogged down in an argument on the question whether certain other sections of the industry have made an economic case for the payment of very large subsidies. The Minister knows my view on that, because I have expressed it forcibly on a number of occasions.
In this case we are dealing with an estimated amount of £50,000. The Minister may say that this figure is wrong. As far as I know, one firm, which at this stage shall be nameless, has certainly not made out a case on economic grounds for subsidies under the terms of the Bill. I estimate that this firm, by virtue of its extension in recent months, will receive in one full year £500,000 in subsidies under the Bill.
249 The Minister's arguments are not valid. He is merely being asked to take permissive powers. We shall certainly carry this matter to a Division. In view of the relatively little risk attaching to this series of proposals, it would be much better in the present political climate for the Minister not to embarrass so many of his hon. Friends by refusing to take their advice. No hon. Member has asked that the subsidy should be given automatically. Both sides of the Committee have merely asked the Minister to take permissive powers and apply them if necessary but, if it is not necessary, not to apply them. The Minister would grow in stature if he said at the Dispatch Box that he would accept the Amendments.
§ Sir David Robertson (Caithness and Sutherland)
Both sides of the Committee have made out a very strong case for action to be taken in regard to the shellfish side of the industry. Unlike the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin), I was in shell fishing for a number of years. It was a very chancy job for fishermen. My company was at the selling end. I remember in the height of summer thousands of lobsters coming in from the Western Isles and other parts of North Scotland and being condemned because of the time taken in transport in very hot weather. The losses were so serious that my company decided to build a lobster pond in Billingsgate Market. We did so to find if we could keep lobsters alive by feeding them and keeping them in water which was circulated and aerated. We kept about 5,000 lobsters there for two years to prove it. This system was adopted in the Western Isles and in Orkney and elsewhere and it has proved successful. It is called lobster ponding. It takes care of the glut at a time of abundance and one is able to sell them later at a time of scarcity, particularly in the London banqueting season when lobsters are in high demand. When the situation was at its worst, before we started lobster ponding at Billingsgate Market, we paid all fishermen a minimum of 1s. a lb. on lobsters that arrived dead and could not be sold. We did so to try to keep them floating.
It is not good enough for the Government to brush this case aside and say that they will not do anything for the 250 little people who are operating all around our coasts, simply because no investigation has been carried out, except that related in the Fleck Report, which seems to me to have been a very superficial investigation. I urge the Minister, who is so outstanding, to accept the Amendment and take permissive powers. This would not mean that he would have to do anything. A three-months' investigation by the right people would disclose the facts. Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co. or Price Water-house & Co. could do this in three months or less, I guarantee. The facts could be learned.
Nobody wants a subsidy to be given unless there is need. The Government did not need to ask the deep water people if they were in need. After losing thousands of miles of fishing ground, they were bound to be in need. Individual catches are down. Trawling overall is now showing an improvement, but some trawlers are not doing well. Their catches are considerably down on what they were before the curtailments took place.
The shellfish side of the industry is very important, particularly at this time. It would not do the Conservative Party much good to have it broadcast all over the place that we are giving subsidies to Associated Fisheries, the Ross Group, and all the others, but that we are turning our backs on the little fellow who is scratching a living on the coast of Sutherland. The Minister ought to take these powers and apply them if necessary, but not otherwise.
§ Mr. George Jeger (Goole)
The Minister must be impressed by the arguments that have been put from both sides of the Committee. He has always given the impression of being a very reasonable Minister, and I am quite sure that while he is sitting there looking a little glum at the lack of support—except that from one of his hon. Friends, who has now gone away—he must be considering that the weight of opinion on all sides is very much in favour of his accepting this Amendment, and I hope that he will do so.
The hon. Member who supported him did so, I think, for the wrong reasons. He seemed to say that the cost would be much greater, but disregarded the total amount of subsidies and loans 251 envisaged by the Bill. He was prepared to swallow the camel but he strained at the gnat. He also seemed to disregard the fact that the total amount of £50,000 entailed by this Amendment would not be in addition to the global amount in the Bill but would be part of it only. Further, the Minister should remember that, if he accepted the Amendment, not even the whole £50,000 might be required.
The Minister seems to be missing a very good opportunity to encourage small small men to continue in business, and so to do a very good job for the country not only by providing shellfish for home consumption but by stimulating, in a small way, our export trade. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the following words in paragraph 160 of the Fleck Report:Lobsters fetch a good enough price for air transport to be worth considering, and there is already a modest export of lobsters by air to the ContinentIf that side was stimulated, our export trade could also be stimulated and increased.
The same paragraph states:…the large import of canned crab (£2.7 million in 1959) shows that there is a good demand for the processed product if prices can be made competitive.Prices may not be competitive, but the Fleck Report takes care of that, for it says, in the same paragraph:It would of course be possible to argue that assistance would be justified "—to this industry, of course:on grounds of social need even if economic prospects were poor …".Those of my hon. Friends who represent Scottish constituencies have an unanswerable case on the ground of social need.
I am quite sure that if the Minister studies the interests of this small section of the fishing industry, and the contribution it can make to our national economy by increasing exports—as well as providing the men with a sensible living in their own area—he will accept our Amendment on both the social and the economic grounds.
§ Sir Colin Thornton-Kemsley (North Angus and Mearns)
We are all anxious to make progress, but if one feels, as I do, that the Under-Secretary of State for 252 Scotland and his right hon. Friends are wrong about this, it is right that one should say so while the matter is before the Committee.
Over a period of years I have made representations to my hon. Friend on behalf of the inshore fishermen who are engaged in shell fishing. The representations I made on the last occasion were very strongly supported by the Firth of Forth Fishermen's Association. I have not supported that Association all the way through the progress of this Bill, but I do so on this occasion.
I think that the Government would be making a big mistake if they were to allow this opportunity to pass to take powers—which may never be required. They have the chance to take powers to step in, if it proves necessary, to rescue a small but important section of the industry. In my constituency, there is at Johnshaven one of the great lobster ponds to Which my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) has referred. I have been there. I have seen the boxed lobsters coming in quickly by lorry from all the ports of North Scotland, from the Outer Islands and from Orkney and Shetland, and put straight into the ponds. It is a big industry. It may not need help at present but it has needed it in the past and could need it again in the future. I urge the Government to take these powers while they have the chance.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reply to the points that have been made since he last spoke. In particular, I hope that he will reply to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), who was very much to the point when he said that the Government cannot want to appear before the country as being prepared to guarantee hundreds of thousands of pounds to companies that are showing very substantial profits. In spite of the wage pause, one of those companies only two weeks ago increased its dividend quite substantially. If that company can receive Government money, one wonders why the smaller men, particularly those round the coast of Scotland—and the coast of Cornwall, and the West Coast—should be denied even a kind look.
253 It is all very well to quote the Fleck Report, but I remember that when we first discussed that Report a number of us expressed very serious concern about the effect of the Fleck Committee's recommendations on the inshore fleets. Scottish Members, in particular, pointed out that if the Report were adopted holus-bolus it might mean the closing of a large number of inshore ports in Scotland and a great diminution in the size of the fleet. The result was that the Secretary of State for Scotland later made a special announcement giving certain guarantees and promises to the inshore fleets.
If the Government could do that as a result of the arguments then advanced, surely it is not a bad thing to extend that principle and to say, "Here, once again, we feel that there is a good social case for at least taking the powers, so that if it should become necessary "—that is all we ask—"we can do something to help this section of the fleet."
The Minister dismissed that idea, and said that this section of the industry is doing quite well; that the value of the catch had increased by some £120,000 over a certain period—I am not sure what the period was. But he did not tell us by how much costs had gone up, and as we have not any balance sheets the figures do not mean much. The right hon. Gentleman said that, if necessary, a Bill could be pushed through and the payments made very quickly. Having had some experience of the House of Commons, I do not see things always going through as quickly as that. By the time the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and persuaded the Leader of the House to find time for the Bill to go through and, when it is through, for Parliametary time to be obtained to introduce the necessary Orders, a considerable period will have elapsed.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
My hon. Friend may recall that the Leader of the House said in 1945, when he was a candidate for the Western Isles constituency, that he wished to give special help to the lobster fishermen in that area.
§ Mr. Willis
I hope that that will make the Leader of the House amenable to 254 our arguments and that it will persuade him of the necessity to introduce a Bill for that purpose. Anyway, surely the Minister would be in a much better position if he accepted these permissive powers. They do not bind him to anything but merely allow him to do something should the occasion arise.
Even if we were asking for money we should not be asking for very much. After all, we have spent twice as much on 1A Kensington Palace. Apparently, that is more important than saving the livelihood of fishermen in the scattered and more remote areas which have tended to become depopulated. I should have thought that any Government who were planning their policies correctly would seriously consider the arguments adduced today, for it is important to keep these communities going, particularly around the shores of Scotland.
The right hon. Gentleman should remember that we have a big emigration problem already and the Government are not doing much about that—except that every time we lose a few thousand people from Scotland we are told that there are an increasing number of jobs in the pipeline. Unfortunately they never come out of the pipeline. The Under-Secretary knows the tragic story of the ports all around Scotland. He has seen them, just as I have. He must be aware of the way villages slowly become depopulated. He must know of once flourishing villages that became practically completely depopulated but which have since opened up again. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland knows the truth of what I say. Does the Minister want this pitiful tale to continue; this pitiful story of men and women driven from villages to seek their livelihood elsewhere? Will the Minister not take powers to do something about this? Does the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) want to say something?
§ Mr. Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)
I have not said a word yet. I had intended to support the Amendment, but if the hon. Member does not want me to do so I will refrain from doing so.
§ Mr. Willis
We are indeed anxious to have the hon. Member's support. It must have been one of his hon. Friends seated near to him who made certain remarks.
§ Mr. Willis
I dare say that many of the people in Hyde Park would not understand what was being said in the parts of the country to which we are referring.
As I was saying, I am sure that the Minister does not want this tragic story to continue. We are merely asking him to accept these permissive powers so that, if necessary, and if the figures prove that the need exists, he is able, without coming to the House—except to get the Order—to do something. After all, the Amendment is supported by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee and I should have thought that the least the Minister should do is to promise to look at the whole matter again, perhaps with the result that something might be done in another place. The right course for him. however, would be to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
In his remarks the Minister emphasised certain points and raised certain doubts. He did not, however, give any real answers to support those doubts and it would be wrong to allow the impression to go out that the Minister has made any sort of acceptable case.
The only basis on which the Amendment would apply, a permissive basis, is modest enough. It would apply only in places where there is ample economic evidence that there is need for some sort of help, such help as is being offered to the more prosperous sections of the industry in the great ports. The Minister did not answer that argument in any of his remarks. I urge the right hon. Gentleman, when he refers to dual purpose fishing, to consider the plight of the island of Barra and, particularly, its satellite island of Vatersay which, in their fishing activity, are dependent almost entirely on lobster fishing. If he will do so he will see that the record in this area is that of the highest emigration in the British Isles.
Emigration has economic reasons in 99 per cent. of cases. In this area, in ten 256 years, there has been a 25 per cent. depopulation. Are these not economic as well as social arguments? This is in a community which is almost entirely formed of seamen and lobster fishermen. The Minister said that many of these fishermen could fish for white fish when they were not fishing for lobsters. The right hon. Gentleman has been wrongly advised if he thinks that they can do that, for his remarks are absolutely incorrect for many of these people.
Such Outer Islands areas, which are almost wholly dependent on lobster fishing, cannot find a market for white fish because they do not have the means for preserving, processing, marketing, or transporting. They are, therefore, thrown back entirely on to the procedures outlined by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). They must get them to the mainland alive or into the lobster ponds until they can be marketed, just as the hon. Member described. They cannot do that with white fish and they must, therefore, be full-time lobster fishermen.
As I pointed out earlier, they can fish only for a certain number of months in the year in western areas because of weather and climatic conditions. If the right hon. Gentleman studies the depopulation figures in many of the areas which are most dependent on lobster fishing, he will find that the social and economic arguments apply equally in favour of this Amendment.
The House of Commons and this Committee have a reputation for justice, especially when we are discussing minorities, the downtrodden and the bottom dog. We can argue politics until the cows come home, or until the lobsters do not come in—but that sense of justice lies deep within the heart of every hon. Member, especially in regard to minorities. The Minister has made out no case whatever for excluding this poorer section of the fishing community. Time and again the hon. Members behind him have supported the Amendment. Only one spoke against it and he did not really understand the problem.
As one of my hon. Friends said, the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney), happily swallowed the camel and choked, just as happily, over the gnat. He also 257 swallowed the Minister and choked over twenty back benchers. Perhaps I might put it this way: he found it difficult to digest the lobster when he was quite able to swallow a shark. The hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East was wholly wrong when he argued as if the Amendment would be adding about £50,000. We cannot do that in this Committee and the hon. Member knows it. If he does not, he should know it. We are, after all, talking only about an allocation within the sum which is already accepted. If he can swallow the whole, it should not be difficult—in fact it would be almost impossible—not to swallow the parts of the whole.
I hope that the Minister will consider this matter again as a human and social, as well as a purely economic matter. If he cannot accept the whole of the economic argument, he should at least accept the argument in favour of common justice for these people.
§ Mr. Soames
I realise that many hon. Members who represent fishing ports which depend to a considerable extent on shell fishing are anxious that the shell fishermen should be included in the subsidy. Many hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), who, I know, looks at this matter in an impartial manner, have spoken, but I think that the case has been exaggerated to some extent. We have had a picture presented of many little inshore fishing ports in respect of which this payment on shellfish will make all the difference between survival and collapse. As I said earlier, my case is that, in view of the background to the argument on this issue, which has been going on since 1950, as to whether a subsidy to shell fishermen should be paid, it would not be right for the Government to take powers to pay subsidies to anyone unless they intended to pay them.
I should like to give some figures concerning the different types and values of fish caught by inshore fishing. Taking a five-year average, 1955 to 1959, the value of herring caught in England and Wales has dropped from £912,000 to £594,000 in 1961.
258 I agree that there are other shellfish, such as shrimps, whelks, cockles, periwinkles and others, for which the figures are not so good, but hon. Members on both sides have referred mainly to lobsters and crabs. In round figures, the average value of crabs caught between 1955 and 1959 was £280,000 compared with £292,000 in 1961; the value of lobsters caught increased from £220,000 to £293,000; and the value of Norway lobsters caught increased from £28,000 to £112,000.
These are not figures which lead the Government to feel that it is necessary to give a subsidy to the shellfish industry, which has not been given hitherto. While subsidies have been given to other sections of the industry, I repeat what I have said before, namely, that this is a part of the inshore fishing industry as a whole. Only a small part of it does not get the subsidy from the white fish side of the inshore fishing industry. Therefore, since, in my view, the economic situation is not such as to warrant an extra subsidy being given at this time, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. Temple
My right hon. Friend has referred to an additional subsidy. As I understand it, what is asked for is a part of the subsidy which is being given in respect of shellfish. Would my right hon. Friend clear up that point?
§ Mr. McAdden
My right hon. Friend has sown some doubt in my mind. He quoted figures for lobsters and crabs. As he may know, those in my constituency are more interested in cockles, which, my right hon. Friend indicated, were doing rather badly. Are they doing badly?
§ Mr. Soames
The average value of the catch of cockles from 1955 to 1959 was £67,987. In 1961, it was £90,400.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Hoy
The 1959 figures given in the Fleck Report do not square with the figures which the Minister has given.
I wish to revert to the main argument. The Minister argued that, if the industry wanted a subsidy, it had to prove the need for it. All that I was saying was 259 that the distant-water trawler fleet received substantial subsidies without producing balance sheets. I went on to deal with the argument about developing the industry itself. In view of the overwhelming desire of the Committee that the Minister should give assistance to this very small industry, I should have thought that he would accede to the Committee's request. With the exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney), whose argument was that he did not have any of these interests in his constituency, there has been unanimity in the Committee on this subject.
§ Mr. Hoy
It was obvious that the hon. and gallant Gentleman completely misunderstood my arguments. That is always a danger when one comes in halfway through a debate and hears only half of it. That is why the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not understand the argument.
We think that the case for social justice for this small section of the community is overwhelming. As the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) said, what we propose to do here is to help the small men. That the Minister refuses to do, and therefore we shall have to go into the Division Lobby.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 184, Noes 210.261
|Division No. 144.]||AYES||[5.48 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Mason, Roy|
|Awbery, Stan||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Millan, Bruce|
|Baird, John||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Milne, Edward|
|Beaney, Alan||Hannan, William||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Harper, Joseph||Monslow, Walter|
|Benson, Sir George||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Moody, A. S.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hayman, F. H.||Morris, John|
|Blyton, William||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Moyle, Arthur|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Neal, Harold|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Bowles, Frank||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Boyden, James||Hilton, A. V.||Oram, A. E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Holman, Percy||Oswald, Thomas|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Holt, Arthur||Owen, Will|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Houghton, Douglas||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bullard, Denys||Hoy, James H.||Paton, John|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hunter, A. E.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Callaghan, James||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Peart, Frederick|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Pentland, Norman|
|Chapman, Donald||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Cliffe, Michael||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Crosland, Anthony||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Probert, Arthur|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jeger, George||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Randall, Harry|
|Deer, George||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Rankin, John|
|Delargy, Hugh||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Reid, William|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dodds, Norman||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Kelley, Richard||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Driberg, Tom||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn's & S'th'ld)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Lawson, George||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Ross, William|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Royle, Charles (Salford, Surrey)|
|Evans, Albert||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Short, Edward|
|Finch, Harold||Loughlin, Charles||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Fletcher, Eric||McCann, John||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||MacColl, James||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Forman, J. C,||McInnes, James||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McKay, Jonn (Wallsend)||Small, William|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||McLeavy, Frank||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gilmour, Sir John||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Ginsburg, David||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Gourlay, Harry||Manuel, Archie||Steele, Thomas|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mapp, Charles||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Marsh, Richard||Stodart, J. A.|
|Stonehouse, John||Wainwright, Edwin||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Stones, William||Warbey, William||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Weitzman, David||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Swain, Thomas||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Taverne, D.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Whitlock, William||Zilliacus, K.|
|Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Willey, Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Thornton- Kemsley, Sir Colin||Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Mr. Redhead and|
|Tomney, Frank||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)||Dr. Broughton.|
|Wade, Donald||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Goodhart, Philip||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Goodhew, Victor||Mills, Stratton|
|Allason, James||Gower, Raymond||Miscampbell, N.|
|Arbuthriot, John||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Morgan, William|
|Balniel, Lord||Green, Alan||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Barber, Anthony||Gresham Cooke, R.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Barlow, Sir John||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Barter, John||Gurden, Harold||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Batsford, Brian||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Osbom, John (Hallam)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Page, Craham (Crosby)|
|Biffen, John||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Hastings, Stephen||Peel, John|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hay, John||Percival, Ian|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Peyton, John|
|Bossom, Clive||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hendry, Forbes||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hiley, Joseph||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Brewis, John||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Pott, Percivall|
|Brooman-White, R.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hocking, Philip N.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Holland, Philip||Pym, Francis|
|Bryan, Paul||Hollingworth, John||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Hopkins, Alan||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Burden, F. A.||Hornby, R. P.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Rees, Hugh|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Renton, David|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Roots, William|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Russell, Ronald|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Sharples, Richard|
|Collard, Richard||Jackson, John||Shaw, M.|
|Cooper, A. E.||James, David||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Corfield, F. V.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Smithers, Peter|
|Costain, A. P.||Jennings, J. C.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Coulson, Michael||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Speir, Rupert|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Crowder, F. P.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Cunningham, Knox||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kershaw, Anthony||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Dance, James||Kimball, Marcus||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|d'Av'gdor-Coldsmid, Sir Henry||Kitson, Timothy||Tapsell, Peter|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Leavey, J. A.||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Leburn, Gilmour||Teeling, Sir William|
|Doughty, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|du Cann, Edward||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Duncan. Sir James||Litchfield, Capt. John||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Longbottom, Charles||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Eden, John||Loveys, Walter H.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)||McAdden, Stephen||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Emery, Peter||McLaren, Martin||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Walder, David|
|Farr, John||Maclean, SirFitzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs.)||Walker, Peter|
|Fell, Anthony||MacLeod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Finlay, Graeme||McMaster, Stanley R.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Maddan, Martin||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Freeth, Denzil||MagInnis, John E.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Gammans, Lady||Mannlngham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Woollam, John|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Marten, Neil|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J,||Mr. Whitelaw and|
§ Questioned proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Hoy
Before we part with the Clause, I want to say how grateful I am to the Committee for that ready response to what I regard as a very good Amendment. I am sorry that our pressure did not prevail, but at least the small men will know that we have stood by them when the Government deserted them.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.