HC Deb 22 December 1965 vol 722 cc2079-81
17. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the future of the White Fish Authority.

Mr. Hoy

I am not aware that any statement is called for. The White Fish Authority will continue as in the past to carry out its responsibilities to promote the development of the white fish industry.

Mr. Wall

Is the Minister aware that the White Fish Authority is being frustrated by lack of Government financial support of its many schemes? Will he agree that an expansion of the work of the Authority is of importance to the whole industry?

Mr. Hoy

The first part of that question just is not true. We have provided money. The money for this year will be greater than for the previous year. It may be that the distribution is not liked by the hon. Member, but I am sure that it will be welcome to inshore fishing.

18. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's discussions with the White Fish Authority, and their policy in regard to the future of a minimum prices scheme in the fishing industry.

20. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what negotiations he has had with the fishing industry concerning a minimum price system; and when he will make a statement.

Mr. Hoy

I have had full discussions with the White Fish Authority and will make a statement as soon as possible.

Mr. Wall

Is there any intention of introducing a statutory scheme and, if so, when does the Minister expect to make a statement? Will it be at the beginning of the next Session of Parliament?

Mr. Hoy

We are certainly holding discussions. Certain difficulties have arisen not only at home but abroad, too, but these discussions have been carried on in a very friendly way and we hope to reach a decision.

Mr. Johnson

While I accept the Minister's Answer for the time being, will he accept my view that the take-over bid of the Associated Fisheries Combine by the Ross Group will alter the nature of the industry as we know it, not least the nature of the wet fish auction sales in the dock? Will he consult the White Fish Authority about the effect of this proposal?

Mr. Hoy

I think that I had better leave it to those two giants to fight out whether one will pay £16 million and the other will receive it. On the other hand, it is true that it may have an effect on the market, and I have no doubt that the White Fish Authority will be paying attention to any consequences arising from this sort of take-over.

Mr. George Y. Mackie

Is it not time that there was an amalgamation between the Herring Industry Board and the White Fish Authority?

Mr. Hoy

That is another question.

Mr. G. R. Howard

While hoping that we shall get this statement very soon after the Recess, may I ask whether I am not right in saying that the Chairman of the White Fish Authority, Mr. Roy Matthews, who has done so well for the industry, is very much in favour of a minimum price? I hope that the Government will be able to accede to the wishes of the White Fish Authority.

Mr. Hoy

Without disclosing the opinion of any side, I can say that the discussions with Mr. Roy Matthews have been very friendly indeed.

Mr. Godber

May I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) and others have said? There is great concern among those in the industry about the matter. They need something to give them a greater feeling of security. I am sure that we all wish this to be done, and I hope that the Minister will be able to be helpful.

Mr. Hoy

I am grateful to the hon. Member for what he said, which is along the road on which we have been trying to work. Like him, I hope that we shall reach a satisfactory settlement.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Supplementary questions must be questions.