HC Deb 11 May 1964 vol 695 cc18-9
19. Mr. Hoy

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of the proposals to curtail the train services for the distribution of fish and the economic repercussions this would have on the industry; and what representations he has made on the matter.

Mr. Soames

I understand that the Railways Board has put forward some proposals to the trade, and these are still under discussion. I have no powers to intervene.

Mr. Hoy

Does the right hon. Gentleman understand that the Railways Board has also announced the date for the cessation of these services, and that without these services there cannot be an adequate distribution of fish through the wholesale merchants association? This will mean economic disaster for this sector of the industry. Will the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, use his influence with the Minister of Transport to see that these services are not cut off until consultations take place and an alternative form of delivery is formulated by the people concerned?

Mr. Soames

My information is not the same as the hon. Gentleman's, namely, that a date has been definitely fixed at which services will be brought to an end. My information is that there have been preliminary discussions, that a meeting was held in April between representatives of the railways and the trade, and that these consultations are continuing. I do not believe that any firm date has been announced; in fact, I am sure that no firm date has been announced. As to the second part of the supplementary question, of course my right hon. Friend and I will pay attention to what, within our remit, we should do, but not to other matters which are purely the affair of the Railways Board.

Mr. Jeger

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he is not interested in the future of the fishing industry and that he is leaving it entirely to the Ministry of Transport and the Railways Board to close down the transport system which supplies fish for which he is responsible to the country? Surely his Department should be represented at those discussions?

Mr. Soames

I did not say that; neither did I infer it, and the hon. Gentleman knows it not to be so.

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