HC Deb 12 November 1969 vol 791 cc397-8
34. Mr. Gordon Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he proposes to take on the Hunter Report.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Dr. J. Dickson Mabon)

I am not yet able to add to the answer given on 16th July 1969 to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell).—[Vol. 787, c. 609.]

Mr. Campbell

That reply was very negative. Why have the Government no proposals for this Session of Parliament, not even a White Paper, when this report has been in their hands for about four years, and when action could be taken on some of the recommendations which would greatly assist the Scottish tourist industry?

Dr. Mahon

I explained to the hon. Gentleman 28 days ago that there were a number of problems still to be resolved. There are many conflicts of opinion about the implementation of the Hunter Report. It is not possible to treat different parts of the report without legislation, and, therefore, we would like to do it all together.

Mr. Willis

Is my hon. Friend aware that inshore fleets and fishermen in my division are very annoyed at the fact that no decisions have been made about this report? They have spent large sums of money on nets for salmon fishing. A ban is supposed to exist while the report is being considered. Is it not about time some decisions were made?

Dr. Mabon

I sympathise with my right hon. Friend, but I assure him that these are complex matters and that we are getting as close as we can to a decision.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) answered questions during a debate at least three years ago he said that this was a matter of great urgency? I confirm everything that the right hon. Gentleman said today about the feelings of the Scottish drift-net fishermen.

Dr. Mabon

I accept that, but, to be fair, my right hon. Friend ought to remember that the report was published in August 1965. My right hon. Friend knows the complexity of these matters. I assure hon. Gentlemen that they are not easy to resolve.

Mr. Dalyell

There may be conflicts of opinion, and I admit that these are complex matters, but does not the suggestion in Question No. 54 commend itself to my hon. Friend? Would not this let him off the hook by putting forward an agreed solution?

Dr. Mabon

I am not on the hook, despite the Hunter Report. I put it to my hon. Friend that the Question that he asked on 16th July of this year is probably the right line of questioning, and that he should look at it again and see the implications of his supplementary question.

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