§ 11.09 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Anthony Stodart)
I beg to move.That the White Fish (Inshore Vessels) and Herring Subsidies (United Kingdom) Scheme, 1971, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12th July, be approved.The Scheme before the House tonight contains our proposals for the payment of subsidy for the year from 1st August next for white fish vessels under 80 ft. and for all herring vessels, most of which are also under that length. So we are discussing only the inshore and herring subsidies. In due course, my right hon. Friends will be laying proposals before the House for the deep-sea subsidy arrangements.
A further payment to those who own deep-sea vessels will not be due until early in 1972, so there will be a chance of discussing those arrangements on another occasion, but they will not affect the proposals which we are putting forward tonight, which are concerned only with subsidy rates for the inshore and herring fleets for the next 12 months—that is, until July, 1972.
It is usual in debates of this kind to set the proposals against the economic background of the fleet. Total landings of white fish and herring from inshore vessels in the United Kingdom in 1970 were £22.8 million—a significant increase of £3.5 million, or 17 per cent., over 1969. Shellfish landings at £6.7 million went up by about £0.7 million. Landings benefited to some extent from natural factors, but also from a much improved level of prices, while herring in particular continued to benefit from the firm demand from Scandinavian markets, particularly for herring from the West Coast of Scotland.
The size and catching capacity of the inshore fleets is being well maintained. In England and Wales, the number of vessels is up slightly with a significant increase in capacity as a result of a number of new vessels, particularly on the North-East Coast. In Scotland, the slight fall in vessel numbers is a result of many smaller and older vessels no longer being classified as registered fishing vessels. But the newer and better 1620 equipped vessels are fully mantaining the industry's capacity.
The higher landings which I have mentioned are reflected in the industry's average profits, which showed a further healthy increase. In England and Wales profits before depreciation were 40 per cent. higher than in 1969, and in Scotland the increase was over 26 per cent. Overall the increase was just about 30 per cent. Earnings being made just now have risen again and up to the end of June are about 24 per cent. up on the same period last year.
I should also mention that in spite of the close season for herring fishing in the North Sea during May, the value of herring landings in the United Kingdom up to the end of June was over £2 million—an increase of about one-quarter compared with the same period of last year.
The 1970 profits picture which I have painted shows the industry to be in a healthy state, and earnings so far this year do not give any grounds for despondency. In spite of rises in costs which the industry is having to face, I see no reason why profits in 1971 should not continue the upward trend of recent years.
At this time we are considering assistance to the industry for the 12 months to July, 1972, in the light of 1970 profitability and of factors which may affect profits made during 1971. Although profits are continuing to rise, we have decided that the right thing to propose to the House is to leave the present subsidy rates as they are.
I think it can reasonably be claimed that this a pretty generous settlement, and this will have to be borne in mind when future schemes are considered, but we are confident that it will commend itself to the House as evidence of the Government's determination to see a strong and prosperous industry.
We are not proposing any significant change in the condition of payments. We are continuing the qualification required by some of the smaller boats to make them eligible for voyage rate subsidy, and on this occasion these boats will be paid such rates if they earned at least £250 in subsidy in the year 1970.
Other than mentioning that, at the request of the fishermen, we have included Fleetwood in place of Holyhead 1621 in the list of ports at which herring landings qualify for oil and meal subsidy, I do not think that I need draw attention to any other points in the Scheme, which follows almost the same form as that approved by the House last year.
I commend the Scheme to the House.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
The whole House will be grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary for giving us his review of the economic conditions of the industry as a background to the scheme. He has explained that the rates of operating subsidy are to be the same under this scheme as in the previous year, against a background of increasing profits. But while this is a standstill scheme, we are not in a standstill situation and there are clouds of anxiety, particularly over the inshore fleet, at this time, as he is well aware.
The anxieties are due largely to the uncertainties about the outcome of the present negotiations for enlargement of the E.E.C. and the impact of the common fisheries policy on the industry. Plainly, this is a practical consequence and I think it right to ask whether the Government are satisfied that there will in fact be an opportunity to reintroduce similar operating subsidies within the common fisheries policy in due course.
There was one rather disturbing aspect of what the Parliamentary Secretary said. It was in connection with his claim that this was a generous award. He said that that would have to be borne in mind in future examinations of the operating subsidies. That sounded ominously like a fulfilment of the expectation of the Government, in pursuance of their commitment to cut Exchequer support for industry wherever they can, to seek to slash the operating subsidies in future. There is no other reading of the hon. Gentleman's reference to that. If that is not the intention, perhaps we shall be told so.
The hon. Gentleman's remarks about the numbers of fishing vessels operating sounded somewhat complacent. particularly in the light of the remarks of the White Fish Authority in its annual report when it said that the rapidly rising cost of new construction made it doubtful 1622 that production could be maintained at current levels, despite the increasing contribution from the prosperous and efficient inshore fleet.
The Government's decision earlier this year to cut the capital grant for vessels has placed the whole future of the fleet in a parlous state, and it is against that background that we are considering the scheme. However, I am grateful for small mercies and as this is probably one of the few sectors of the national economy which has remained relatively unscathed in the review of public expenditure to which the Government have been committed, one must accept that this is not an altogether unsatisfactory Scheme and on that account the Opposition will certainly not wish to oppose it.
The Minister of State did not review in any great detail where the profits lay, whether landings were up or down, as has been done in the past. This bears heavily on the question of whether there should be regionally varying operating subsidies. While I generally accept the view of both sides that there is a reasonable case for maintaining a flat rate, there are certain serious implications in the common fisheries policy as a result of the pricing scheme within the Community which is to be operated on a uniform basis and to which the White Fish Authority has drawn attention.
As the Authority pointed out, uniformity over the whole of the geographical area of an enlarged Community might hit the peripheral ports, those remote from the main centres of consumption. Although the Government are continuing the scheme on a flat-rate basis, I hope—and we have not heard much on this point during our exchanges—that they will look seriously at how we can subsidise those peripheral ports over the withdrawal price which has to be paid by the inshore fleet operators under a common fisheries policy.
This is conceivably the most serious aspect of that policy which does need to be renegotiated and has been overlooked in the concern, rightly expressed, over the Government's intention to start negotiations on a six-mile limit proposal. There are a number of other areas of uncertainty which point to a less rosy future for the industry.
1623 The Cameron Report on Scottish inshore fisheries has stirred up a veritable hornet's nest of criticism, understandably so when set against the background of the Common Market negotiations. I hope that opportunity will be taken tonight to explain the Government's intentions towards this Report and that the Minister will put at rest any fears that the Government intend to act upon the recommendations of the Report.
This is not the time or place to seek to elucidate the Government's position over negotiations for entry into the Common Market but it is appropriate to say in a debate in which the general condition of the fishing industry is being considered that no form of operating subsidy of the kind we are considering could possibly make good the potential depredations on our fisheries if the waters round our coasts are not adequately protected, if we do not have adequate conservation and control of fishing in the area up to the existing 12-mile limit.
There can be no satisfaction until the Government have explained their general negotiating posture and are prepared to spell out what sort of protection and control they would seek to exert in the area between the six- and 12-mile limits, if that is the finally agreed position.
The Minister referred to the generally inflationary situation and how it has affected the profitability of the industry. One must accept that the profits have risen, despite increasing costs, but perhaps he or his hon. Friend would say a few words about the expectations for the industry in the forthcoming year when these subsidies will be operative. There are concerns in the industry that the rising price of fish may seriously affect patterns of consumption and may lead to some reduction in the market. It would be valuable to know whether the Minister shares the view that there may be a contracting domestic market for our fish and, if so, what he proposes to do about it.
I am glad to learn, as has been made public on a number of occasions, that this year has been a relatively prosperous year for the fishing community, and I welcome the Government's decision to exempt the fisheries section of our economy from the slashing cuts in public expenditure on subsidisation which other 1624 sections of our economy have been subjected to.
§ 11.26 p.m.
§ Mr. W. H. K. Baker (Banff)
I welcome the scheme. I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) down the thorny path of the European Economic Community, although I should like briefly to refer to that matter.
It is true that we have had a pretty good year and this one looks as though it will be equally good. The landings between 1st January and 31st May this year were almost exactly 3½ million cwt, which is nearly ½ million cwt. up on the same period last year. I trust that this will lead to a record year in Scotland in 1971.
It is a source of satisfaction to the House and to the industry that there is no reduction in the scheme of the stonage rate or of the daily rate compared with 1970, and at least two Scottish producers' associations—the white fish association and the herring fishing association—have intimated to me that they are well satisfied that there has been no reduction made in the current year.
In common with other industries, there has been a rapidly escalating increase in the overhead costs which fishermen have had to face. That was one of the reasons for the introduction of these operating subsidies. Let me give three examples of the increase in costs which fishermen have had to face. In November, 1963, a one by 520 trawl cost £180. In November, 1970, it cost £251. In November, 1963, a 2⅜ths inch manilla rope cost £18.60 ; in November, 1970, it cost £26.50. In November, 1963, a trawl basket cost £1.05 ; in November, 1970, it cost £1.50.
This gives a good indication of the price rises. No doubt it is in face of these increases in overheads that the Government have decided to maintain the support at its present level. I trust that, as my hon. Friend said in introducing the scheme, this will give a measure of reassurance to the inshore fishing industry in view of the uncertainty about Britain joining the E.E.C.
A related problem is the replacement of fishing vessels and the provision of new fishing vessels. The fishing boat builders are working under capacity, 1625 and in a memorandum of 23rd March their Association said that in the 18 yards in Scotland employing 1,100 men with a capacity for 63 vessels per annum, only 31 vessels were being built and only 20 orders were on the books. I hope my hon. Friend will give the current picture of the position.
I hope that the fisheries negotiations with the E.E.C. will be finally resolved before the end of the October, and perhaps my hon. Friend will confirm that. Will he also say what stage the Government's review of the statutory bodies governing fisheries has reached, and whether or not we may expect an announcement about the future of the W.F.A. and the Herring Industry Board. I should also like to know what form the certification mentioned in paragraph 5 of the scheme will take, and why it is necessary to have certification. On paragraph 13, has the Minister received any further representations for the uniform payment of grants ; that is to say, whether the daily rate or the stonage rate should be universal? That has been a bone of contention for a long time. On Part III of Schedule 3, what is the Government's policy towards industrial fishing? Any extension would not be welcome to the fishermen in my constituency.
It is difficult at this time in the year in discussing these schemes when the fisheries reports and fisheries statistical tables are not available. I ask my hon. Friend, as I have asked before in the House, whether something can be done to bring forward the production and introduction of these reports to assist hon. Members not only in this debate but generally in relation to the fishing industry.
§ 11.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
I wish to make three brief points without going into the detail of the scheme. It is worth commenting on the general question of subsidising our fishing fleet at this time. This may be a turning point. In future years the attitude of the Government to subsidising our fishing industry may change, although I hope it will not. I base that fear on two considerations. First, subsidies strike at the very heart of the difference between the parties. The Conservative Party is fundamentally opposed to subsidies, because 1626 its view is that private industry knows best and the minimum of Government interference creates the best conditions for the people. Secondly, the Conservative Party is concerned about reducing the level of Government expenditure. The Government are obsessed with the need to reduce expenditure, and the fishing industry has already suffered from this doctrinaire obsession.
For these reasons we are bound to be concerned about the future of subsidising industry. We must bear in mind that the approach of the Labour Party is quite different. To put it bluntly, we do not take the view that what is good for General Motors is good for the people of the country. We believe in Government intervention. That is why the future of these subsidies is much more secure under a Labour Government than under a Conservative Government.
Secondly, if we are in the Common Market in January, 1973, and if we are part of the common fisheries policy, inevitably this will become an important consideration when we are discussing these issues. Regardless of one's views on entry into the E.E.C.——
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Although this Statutory Instrument has considerable significance for the industry, the debate should not go wider than its contents. It operates only until 31st January, 1972, so that the effect of possible United Kingdom entry into the E.E.C. will not arise in the currency of this scheme. Perhaps the hon. Member will guide his remarks in the light of that fact.
§ Mr. Strang
I am grateful for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, but, while accepting it, I feel that it would be fair for me to conclude on this aspect by saying that in the negotiations which are taking place it is important that the Government should be committed to the idea of subsidisation and should not be prepared to use the E.E.C. as a way to reduce the level of help which they are prepared to give to the industry.
My third point, which was taken up by my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), is the rather rash statement made by the Minister that the Government have been generous this time—we always expect that to be said ; I doubt whether there 1627 are many occasion on which it has not been said on the introduction of these schemes—but that that will be taken into consideration in the future. The Under-Secretary of State must clarify that when he replies to the debate, because that statement will create a great deal of uncertainty and concern in the industry. It can mean only that the Government have at the back of their mind the view that in future the situation will be much less favourable for the fishing industry. If that is what they believe, they should say so and put it into perspective. Simply to give broad hints will inevitably lead to exaggerated reactions and undue confusion. We have already had a great deal of confusion and concern among our fishermen because of the incredible lack of tact which the Government have shown on virtually every fishing issue on which they have laid their hands since they came to power.
§ 11.38 p.m.
§ Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned the difference in the rate of profitability between the Scottish and the English catch, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will tell us something about that when he replies to the debate. It is of interest to us in Scotland as a problem which exists at present and also as having a bearing in future on E.E.C. pricing policy. If there is an underlying difference caused by the distance from the market, that is germane to the debate which is taking place.
My hon. Friend also mentioned the increased catching capacity on the Norih-East Coast. I assume that he means that the availability of fish on the North-East Coast is on the increase. Although I do not want to overstep Mr. Speaker's Ruling, I find myself in a difficulty. We are talking about protecting the inshore fishing. It is one thing when one is thinking of the islands and promontories to be found on the west coast where there is protection under a certain limit, and a quite different matter when one is thinking of the area from Flamborough Head up to the Orkneys where a straight line may be very detrimental to us indeed.
The fact that the figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary indicate that the 1628 catching capacity has been increased leads one to believe that this is a vulnerable part of the inshore industry at present. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned an alteration which had been made to Part 1 of the Schedule at the request of the fishermen. I wonder whether it is wise to draw the provision in the exact terms in which it is drawn. I notice that Anstruther, which is in my constituency, is included in the Schedule whereas the port of Pittenweem, down the coast, is not included. If, for example, Anstruther was closed for dredging, then no doubt inshore boats would have to go to Arbroath before they could land their catch. The Minister should have given himself more discretion when framing this scheme so that he could make alterations in it in the interests of the efficient working of adjacent ports if, for some reason, a particular port happened to be closed at any time.
§ 11.42 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)
We have had a wide-ranging and interesting debate covering a number of different points. The debate has raised many matters of importance. The number of Scottish hon. Members who have taken part in the discussions on this Scheme, which affects the United Kingdom as a whole, indicates the concern in various parts of Scotland.
I will deal first with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour). I would point out that when my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in opening the debate, talked about the North-East Coast, he was referring to England. In referring to fishing capacity, he was referring to the capacity of fishing vessels—which is not necessarily related to the fishing in that area, but to the fishing effort in the various areas to which boats go in order to fish.
My hon. Friend asked about the relative importance of landings. The point he sought was in relation to Scotland as compared to the United Kingdom as a whole. Landings of white fish, herring and shellfish in Scotland during 1970 amounted to 6.3 million cwt. out of a United Kingdom total of 9 million cwt. In money terms the value of Scottish 1629 landings was £19.4 million as against a United Kingdom total of £29.5 million. This indicates the reason why so many hon. Members from Scottish fishing constituencies are present for this debate.
I turn to some of the points raised by other hon. Gentlemen in the debate. I wish to thank the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) for the welcome he gave to the scheme. He was right to express certain anxieties in the industry about certain matters. We are glad that, despite the higher profits earned in the industry, we have managed to maintain the rate of subsidy.
As one who is in regular contact with fishing organisations and their representatives, I recognise that there are anxieties over these matters. I appreciate this at first hand since I represent a fishing constituency which shares these anxieties.
The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland raised a number of points. I dealt with the point about operating subsidies when I answered a Question on this matter last week by my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. W. H. K. Baker). The Common Market has not yet produced regulations on operating subsidies and the position, therefore, is far from clear. However, I give the House every assurance that we are not unaware of the anxieties on this point and that we will be watching the situation very carefully.
The hon. Member also asked, on the question of regional support, whether we could consider operating these subsidies on a regional basis. There has never been any attempt in the past to make a regional differentiation. If the hon. Member reflects on this, he will realise that in practical terms this would be very difficult. We are dealing with a highly mobile industry, with many vessels changing ports from time to time and many Scottish vessels landing at English ports. Moving away from the specific matter of this Statutory Instrument on to questions of minimum prices in the E.E.C. context, and the question of differential minimum prices, we recognise that this is an important point : it is one we have certainly taken on board and indeed it is playing a very big part in the current discussions with the E.E.C.
The hon. Member also asked about our prospects for 1971. My hon. Friend 1630 the Member for Banff to some extent answered this with the figures he gave, and we have seen an increase in landings so far this year. No full figures have yet been published, but the indications from the industry are that in the first six months of this year both prices and earnings are up very sharply and the trend of last year is continuing. All hon. Members have acknowledged that the industry has to face increased costs, but we believe that prices and earnings are at least keeping pace with these cost increases.
The hon. Member also asked about the whole future of operating subsidies, as did the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang). We are committed to a healthy fishing industry. But obviously, one has to review the situation of the industry, as we have done this year. The purpose of Statutory Instruments such as this is to review the industry, its profits, the cost position, and everything else. Obviously, one cannot commit oneself, cut and dried, to a particular pattern for the future. We have committed ourselves to an interest in the industry and a desire to look after it, because we realise not only how important is the industry for its own sake but also how important it is in relation to regional employment, especially in Scotland.
The hon. Member also asked a specific question about the Cameron Committee's Report. This has a certain bearing and has been a point of anxiety in the industry. It is important that I emphasise that, as a Government, we are not committed to the Committee's recommendations in any way. We are closely studying them. We have asked for representations from the industry. Some very detailed and full representations have been made. These we are studying. The House must bear in mind that the Cameron Committee reported in the context of an existing fishing pattern round our coasts. But in the event of accession to the E.E.C.—a point which I have made in answer to parliamentary Questions—a completely new set of considerations arises in relation to the E.E.C. Therefore, it would be impossible to come to any firm conclusions regarding the Cameron Committee's Report until we know more fully the outcome of our negotiations on fishing in relation to the Common Market.
1631 I think that I have dealt with most of the points raised by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland.
§ Mr. Maclennan
Would the hon. Gentleman be kind enough to clarify what the Parliamentary Secretary meant by his statement that in future schemes it would have to be borne in mind that the Government had been generous in this scheme? That sounded very menacing and my hon. Friend was right to draw attention to this matter. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will try to answer the point. If he does not, it will create unnecessary confusion in the mind of the industry.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
There should not be any confusion in the industry. I made the position quite clear. Each year the Government have to review the situation of the industry concerning the profits earned. This is precisely what my hon. Friend said.
It comes ill from the hon. Gentleman—I do not want to introduce a discordant note—and his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East, who made a somewhat carping speech and did not say much by way of welcoming the scheme, to complain when the Labour Government, in 1967, made some of the biggest cuts which have ever been made in the white fish subsidy. I did not want to introduce that note, but hon. Gentlemen opposite asked for it and they have got it. The Labour Government, in the light of the economics of the industry at the time, introduced extremely severe cuts. Obviously Governments have to reserve their position to review the economic situation. That is what my hon. Friend meant.
§ Mr. Maclennan
The hon. Gentleman knows that these cuts were made in pursuance of the Fleck Committee's Report, but the Labour Government later reviewed the situation and re-established the fleet on a much healthier basis. We are now seeing the results in the figures which the hon. Gentleman has given tonight about the increased profitability of the industry. I do not think it appropriate to inject the partisan note which he has just brought in at this late stage. I am asking a straightforward question about what his hon. Friend meant. It 1632 was obscure and I hoped that the hon. Gentleman would clear it up.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
It was the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend who introduced the partisan note. I said that we were continuing the policy on the fishing industry in the scheme. I think that what my hon. Friend said was clear. I hope that I have amplified the point to the hon. Gentleman's satisfaction.
I should now like to deal with one or two points which were raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Banff. He asked about the future of the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board. I remind my hon. Friend of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 17th December last year in which he said that a decision would have to be deferred until we were clear about the outcome of the Common Market negotiations. I am afraid that at this stage there is nothing to be added to that statement.
My hon. Friend asked about our policy on industrial fishing. We appreciate that most fishermen in Britain choose to catch fish for human consumption, but it should be open to those who wish to fish industrially to do so, and they are free to do so provided that they observe the law. I assure my hon. Friend that we shall continue to study the various aspects of industrial fishing and its effects on conservation. I think that that was the main point about which my hon. Friend expressed concern.
I was also asked about publication of the fisheries report. I assure my hon. Friend that it will be published within the next few weeks. I cannot give a precise date for its publication. It is in the hands of the printers. I hope that my hon. Friend will find it interesting reading when he gets it.
I thought that probably the most important point raised by my hon. Friend concerned the situation in our boatbuilding yards. This matter was also touched on by the hon. Members for Caithness and Sutherland and for Edinburgh, East. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East said that we had created a great deal of uncertainty in the industry. This is not true. We cannot easily get figures from every yard round our coast. The best indication that we have is the number of 1633 applications which go to the authorities which operate the grants.
It is interesting to note that in the period 1st November, 1969, to 30th June, 1970, there were 51 applications, and that in the period 1st November, 1970, to 30th June, 1971, there were 44 applications. There was a slight decline, but nothing as dramatic as one might have deduced from the remarks of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East.
Uncertainty might have existed until the Capital Grants Order had been approved in May of this year but, if we take the figures for May and June, we see that in 1970 there were 11 applications, and in May and June of this year there were 10. Therefore, while I appreciate the concern that has been expressed by boat building yards, the figures of applications—I do not have sufficient information to say how many applications will result in firm orders—show that the position is not as disastrous as some people make it out to be.
I acknowledge the concern that has been expressed, and I repeat the assurance which I gave on an earlier occasion to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon) that later this summer—and I would rather leave it until then—when we know the reaction of the fishing industry to the Capital Grants Scheme, and the reaction of the industry to the new scheme that we are putting before the House on the placement of orders for new boats. I shall be delighted at that stage to meet representatives of the boat building industry to hear what they have to say.
§ Mr. Maclennan
I am sure that the House will be grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that offer. Is he satisfied that the rate of replacement is adequate for our fleet? If he is not, will he give the matter his careful attention during the review in the next couple of months?
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
It is a very large fleet to comment on in a general sense, but the impression that has been 1634 gained in recent years is that, in certain areas, although the number of boats may have decreased, the fishing capacity of the industry has increased. That shows that the industry is modernising its boats and keeping up to date with larger and more modern boats. We cannot tonight debate the deep-sea industry and its feelings in this matter, but in the inshore industry replacement is taking place. This is, however, something that we shall watch carefully. Depreciation comes into costs considerations, and one hopes that the industry is earning sufficient to carry out a proper replacement policy.
I think that I have answered most of the points that were raised. It is certainly the Government's intention to give every encouragement to the fishing industry in Scotland to carry out the work that it has to do. In a year in which the profits of the inshore industry and the herring industry have been at record levels we have not attempted to take away any part of the benefit which they have gained by reducing their subsidy income. This should give the fishing industry a firm foundation on which to build and confidence to face the challenge of the E.E.C. I believe that it is a challenge which the industry can meet and turn to its advantage, with the knowledge that the Government are supporting it in its efforts. For those reasons I am glad to commend the scheme to the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the White Fish (Inshore Vessels) and Herring Subsidies (United Kingdom) Scheme 1971, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12th July, be approved.