HC Deb 24 February 1971 vol 812 cc545-7
6. Mr. Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further steps he is taking to protect the Scottish Inshore Fishing Industry in Common Market negotiations.

The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

As the House has been informed, Her Majesty's Government have reserved our position on fisheries and made representations about the fisheries policy adopted by the Six.

Mr. Gray

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he also bear in mind that many of the recommendations of the Cameron Report are almost as bad for inshore fishermen as the prospect of joining the Common Market? Will he give an assurance that before any legislation is introduced he will seriously consider the industry's views on the fishing limits?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am conscious of the concern felt about some of the proposals in the Cameron Report. My right hon. Friend and I are in the process of consulting the interests involved. I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall not come to any conclusions until those consultations are completed.

Mr. Grimond

Will the Minister go a little further on the Cameron Report? While I do not ask him now to repudiate the whole Report, will he make it quite clear that the Government are not bound by the recommendations about the limits, otherwise these may have a serious effect upon our negotiations? Will he see that it is made clear in Brussels that the throwing open of the Scottish fishing waters to indiscriminate fishing of all kinds would not only be disastrous for the Scottish industry but would be extremely harmful to the whole European industry?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Of course, the Government are not prejudging the Cameron Committee proposals. It would make a mockery of the consultations if we did not study them before coming to a conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman can rest assured that, in the Brussels negotiations, we shall do everything possible to ensure that the interests of the Scottish inshore fishing industry are properly represented.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

In the unlikely event of the United Kingdom joining the E.E.C., are the Government undertaking any studies to see whether there are any alternative ways of providing employment for the large numbers of fishing communities up and down our coastline which depend on fishing and nothing else?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am much more concerned at the moment to ensure that we conduct the negotiations properly, and that is precisely what we are doing.

Mr. Donald Stewart

Will the Government follow the example of the Norwegian Government and oppose the entry of Scotland into the E.E.C. unless and until the E.E.C. abandons its fisheries policy?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

What the Norwegian Government do is a matter for the Norwegians. We shall negotiate in the way which we believe is in the best interests of our inshore fishermen and in the interests of the United Kingdom as a whole.

Mr. Maclennan

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that both the Cameron Report and the Community policy on free access raise two problems—the one on conservation and the other on the regional impact? Is he aware that this is a peculiarly Scottish difficulty? What steps are the Government taking to ensure that the Scottish problems are being properly represented at Brussels?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As I have said on many occasions, we are fully aware of the problems which arise from both those issues. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not so naïve as to think that, in important negotiations like this, the United Kingdom should declare its position in advance.

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