HC Deb 15 May 1968 vol 764 cc1201-3
11. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now make a statement on his Department's review of the fishing industry, in view of the undertaking to make a statement in 1967.

24. Mr. Dewar

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to be able to announce the results of his departmental review on the future of the fishing industry.

41. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now make a statement on the review of the fishing industry made by his Department.

Mr. Hoy

I shall be making a statement during the debate on the fishing industry later today.

Mr. Wall

Is the Minister aware that that reply is very acceptable? We have been waiting since the review was announced in 1965. The Minister will recognise that the industry is in a bad state, and I hope that that will serve to put it right.

Mr. Hoy

I hope to go some way in that direction, but the action that we will be taking will be to correct the Act passed by the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends.

Mr. Dewar

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that he will be in a position tonight to make a full enough statement to remove the doubts about future planning which have been bedevilling the industry for some time? Can he promise that he will not in any event curtail his statement during the debate, but that there will be a full debate in the not too distant future in Government time which will allow us fully to discuss the industry?

Mr. Hoy

I hope that what I have to say will partly satisfy hon. Members. I cannot make any offer of time. That is not my job. That is a matter for the Leader of the House. Thirdly, the time when we normally discuss them is when the schemes for subsidies are submitted. That is usually in July.

Mr. Johnson

Is my hon. Friend aware that hon. Members on this side of the House who represent fishing ports have waited for some months and are happy to wait for a few hours more for what we expect will be a most helpful answer by the Government?

Mr. Hoy

I only hope that it will be a step in the right direction. Everybody knows that the fishing industry has gone through a difficult time as a result of the market itself, and it is still working under the old Act laid down by our predecessors.

Mr. Stodart

I welcome the fact that a statement is at last to be made, but would not it have been for the convenience of the House, unless it is of inordinate length, if the statement had been made in reply to Questions today so that we could have had time to consider it before what, with the best will in the world, will be a short debate tonight?

Mr. Hoy

We have to take account of all the different parts of the industry. We have to consult them all the time. We had a meeting only yesterday. We had hoped to make the statement before now, but these things are always tempered by the number of people to be consulted.

Mr. McNamara

Does my hon. Friend agree that although his statement may go a long way towards helping the fishing industry, there is a good deal that the industry can do to set its own house in order?

Mr. Hoy

I think that certain things might follow from what we are doing to increase the efficiency of the industry as a whole.

Sir T. Beamish

Is the Minister aware that inshore fishermen at Newhaven and throughout the country feel that far too little account has been taken of their point of view? Will the Minister be saying something about them during the debate, and will he give the House some reassurance about them?

Mr. Hoy

I am aware of the position of the inshore fishermen. I have some in my constituency, and I hope that I shall be able to say something about inshore fisheries as well.