HC Deb 21 November 1962 vol 667 cc1195-7
15. Mr. Hoy

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of the payments due to the White Fish Authority under the Grants and Loans Scheme were not paid on the date they were due.

Mr. Noble

This information is not readily available. But the cumulative arrears of payments due to the authority at 31st October expressed as a proportion of the sums due on 31st March and 30th September was 27 per cent.

Mr. Hoy

The right hon. Gentleman apparently finds it difficult to get these figures. If he cannot find them, I can assure him that I have been told by those in the Authority that it amounts to not less than 50 per cent. In any case, it shows that the industry is getting into a very serious plight. What steps does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take to look into the matter and to see what can he done to help the Scottish fishing industry?

Mr. Noble

I am due an apology to the hon. Gentleman, because the figure of 49.8 per cent. which was given to him was given to him in error. It is a very complicated calculation, but it was given as a percentage on sums owing at 30th September. In fact it should have been on sums owing on 30th March and 30th September, because most of the money was due then. I agree with him that it shows a serious position, but I cannot add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) on 7th November.

Lady Tweedsmuir

What representations has my right hon. Friend had on the subject of the moratorium since we had the debate about fishing subsidies in July? Will he confirm that the figures of fishing losses are deteriorating? Is he considering extending the moratorium for a further period beyond a year?

Mr. Noble

As I told the House was likely a fortnight ago, I have had the advantage of a discussion with the Chairman of the Scottish White Fish Authority. I think that it has been useful in clearing up his problems and mine.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the mix-up in the Minister's Department, which he has just disclosed, not indicate that it is time that he consulted practical men in the business, such as trawler owners, fish merchants, fishermen and others, who know the industry, instead of relying on amateurs who know nothing about it?

Mr. Noble

I regret to have to inform the hon and learned Gentleman that the mix-up of the figures was not in my Department.

Lady Iweedsmuir

Will my right hon. Friend kindly answer my original question as to whether he has received any representations from the Scottish trawler owners since July?

Mr. Noble

I have not.

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