HC Deb 12 December 1973 vol 866 cc413-4
27. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department will be separately represented at the forthcoming conference on matters connected with the sea and fishing.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The British delegation will take account of all British interests at the conference, including Scottish fisheries as well as those of the rest of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Grimond

Is the Minister aware that Scotland should be separately represented, because this conference will discuss inshore fishing, which is of far greater importance to the Scottish economy than to the British economy generally? Should not the Scottish Office be separately represented, at least in regard to the question of limits?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I think the right hon. Gentleman realises that we belong to the United Kingdom, and have a United Kingdom Government. I, personally, am wholly confident that Scottish interests will be properly represented, as they have been in the past. Even as recently as yesterday I had the honour, as a Scottish Minister, to open an international fishing conference to which the United Kingdom Government were hosts. I think that this symbolises the part that we in Scotland play in formulating United Kingdom fisheries policies.

Sir J. Gilmour

Does my hon. Friend agree that Scotland has a particular interest in salmon fishing?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I absolutely agree that, as regards not only salmon fishing but the inshore fishing industry, this conference is of particular interest to Scotland.

Mr. Ronald King Murray

Will the Minister bear in mind that hon. Members on the Opposition benches are concerned with results rather than status? In view of the fact that the expertise on Scottish fisheries must come from Scotland, will he reconsider the reply that he has given to the right hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to consider that where it has been appropriate—for example, in negotiations with the Faroese and with the Danish Government about the Faroes question—Scottish departments played a very active part, as we have done in the past. I have no doubt that in this case we shall play an equally active part, if not a more active one.