HC Deb 14 July 1965 vol 716 cc488-9
23. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he now has for the introduction of a minimum pricing scheme for the Scottish white fishing industry.

Mr. Ross

I have nothing to add to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to the hon. Member on 19th May.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

We were led to understand from the White Fish Authority that this scheme was ready. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain what is holding this up? Is it the Treasury or the Department of Economic Affairs?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that this is not quite so easy as his supplementary question would have us believe. This all started not a few months ago but as long ago as 1957. We have not been able to solve the problem since we received the White Fish Authority's proposals at the turn of the year, so the hon. Gentleman should not be too hard on us. This is complicated. It affects not only the fishing industry but every consumer in the country because of the price of fish and the effect on the Treasury. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we are right to take our time in examining the scheme.

Mr. Stodart

While it is understandable that the right hon. Gentleman should wish to rest on the laurels of the achievement of the last Administration, is not he aware, from the Report of the White Fish Authority, that discussions between the Authority and the trade were authorised last July, and that excellent progress had been made by the end of the year? Who has been holding up the conclusion of something on which the Authority, the trade and the producers seem to be set?

Mr. Ross

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was listening to me or whether he looked at the files on this while he was still at the Scottish Office during the previous Administration of which he is so proud. Had he done either, he would have realised that, between 1957 and 1964, the last Government were not able to do anything about this at all.