HC Deb 06 February 1963 vol 671 cc417-8
1. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he is yet in a position to issue a detailed programme of the scientific research and discovery in oceanography which is now in progress by the international fleet, including the£800,000 royal research ship "Discovery", indicating the differences in scientific apparatus in each ship; and what is the necessity for the concentration of a large fleet in the Indian Ocean instead of exploring the North Sea and fishing grounds further north.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)

Yes, Sir, I am arranging for a copy of the United Kingdom scientific programmes during the International Indian Ocean Expedition to be forwarded to the hon. and learned Member.

There are some 40 vessels, owned by the 12 nations, but I have no information as to the differences in the scientific apparatus they carry.

Overall progress is best promoted by a co-ordinated study of one ocean, and the Indian Ocean was chosen by international scientific bodies. This does not mean, of course, that the northern fishing grounds are being neglected.

Mr. Hughes

I thank the Civil Lord for that Answer, but may I ask whether he agrees that this great international effort provides a splendid opportunity for bringing into harmony and co-operative work fishing fleets which have recently not always been in harmony? If they were in harmony, would not this be for the benefit of the British nation and the consumers of fish in this country?

Alternatively, would not it be a good idea to divide this gigantic fleet into two parts so that one part could explore the northern waters while the other part explored the southern waters, allowing them to issue a joint report which would be of value to the fishing industry and consumers of fish throughout the world?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

As someone who was trained as a scientist, I would say that this venture in the Indian Ocean brings harmony in scientific research rather than harmony between fishing fleets. There is continuing research, particularly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, into the fishing grounds and scientific problems in the northern area.