HC Deb 22 March 1967 vol 743 cc1703-4
25. Mr. McNamara

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress is being made with the introduction of a minimum price scheme for fish; and if he will make a statement.

51. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made in studying unresolved objections to the White Fish Authority's draft minimum pricing scheme.

Mr. Hoy

I understand that the Authority is considering the objections it has received before deciding whether to submit its scheme to Ministers.

Mr. McNamara

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. As it is generally accepted—with the exception of a few hon. Members opposite—that such a scheme would benefit housewives and the industry generally, can he give some indication of when we can hope for its publication?

Mr. Hoy

We have to await the submission of the scheme by the White Fish Authority, and we can then decide what action should be taken.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Can the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Government will not impose a statutory scheme on the industry in face of the strong objections from certain sectors of it unless a substantial Treasury contribution is involved?

Mr. Hoy

We will not impose the scheme on the industry, but perhaps hon. Members opposite will make up their minds about whether they are for or against the scheme. They have been swinging backwards and forwards for a long time.

Mr. Baker

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that one of the many drawbacks to the scheme is that the Treasury and his Ministry are taking no part in it? If his Ministry took an interest and could persuade the Treasury to take some part, some of the fishing industry's objections would be overcome.

Mr. Hoy

I do not think so. It was the present Government who for the first time agreed to the scheme in principle, and said that when the scheme was put up we would consider whether the Government should give financial assistance. We went further than that, because the statutory procedure provides for safeguarding all interests. There would have to be an affirmative Resolution before the scheme could be approved or otherwise.

Mr. Dewar

Will my hon. Friend promise to look very carefully at the problem of Treasury support for this scheme, because such a move would disarm the residual criticism of, or opposition to, the scheme and the amount of money likely to be involved in Treasury support could easily be found in the savings in operating subsidies to the fleet?

Mr. Hoy

We would have to consider that when the scheme came before us. We have also to consider the recommendations from the Estimates Committee.

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