HC Deb 02 March 1971 vol 812 c1385
13. Mr. McNamara

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now make a further statement on the future of the White Fish Authority.

Mr. Prior

No, Sir. As I told the hon. Member on 19th January, the position remains as stated in the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) on 17th December.—[Vol. 809, c. 237.]

Mr. McNamara

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that the time is passing? Is he aware that there is uncertainty, and that people would like to know definitely what is the position about the White Fish Authority? When are we to have a definitive statement?

Mr. Prior

There was a statement on 17th December which I thought was pretty clear. Any further statement must await completion of the review of Government-aided research and development and also clarification of the E.E.C. aspects. Until these two items are cleared, there will be no further statement on the White Fish Authority.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the White Fish Authority has been unable to deal with applications under the Fishing Vessels Scheme since his directive freezing these applications as far back as 27th October? The White Fish Authority has, therefore, been unable to carry out this important part of its work. As the Minister has now withdrawn his Order, what will be the position of these applications which have been standing idle for so long?

Mr. Prior

I am considering the position further in the light of the Select Committee's comments and the views which have been expressed by hon. Members, and I will make a further statement on this as soon as possible.