HC Deb 27 June 1973 vol 858 cc1517-9
15. Mr. W. H. K. Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement following the negotiations which took place in Copenhagen during the earlier part of June 1973 on the fisheries around the Faroe Isles.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Discussions took place in Copenhagen on 16th and 17th June, on the basis of Danish proposals for a catch limitation scheme and for the restriction of trawling up to 24 miles from the Faroese coasts on a seasonal basis. Further discussions will be held after study of the revised proposals which the Danish Government undertook to circulate.

Mr. Baker

Can my hon. Friend indicate when a final agreement is likely to be reached on the subject? Will he continue to keep in consultation with those most interested in the outcome of the talks?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

It may take a little time for the Danes to circulate their new proposals to us. We would then require some weeks to consider them. We shall take the interests of the industry fully into account. As my hon. Friend may know, advisers from the industry were present in Copenhagen during the talks and were ready on the spot to give advice. I should hope to continue that arrangement.

Mr. Ronald King Murray

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the importance of publicly demonstrating the drift of the talks so that the fishing industry may know what is going on? As the discussions with the Faroese authorities and Denmark appear to be going on reasonably amicably and Iceland is undertaking discussions with West Germany, will the Government consider the possibility of reopening negotiations with Iceland?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

On the first point, I shall keep the industry informed. I have had meetings with the Scottish trawler owners and British trawler owners. On the second point, I refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in answer to questions yesterday, namely, that we are entitrely ready to reopen negotiations with Iceland provided it will agree to stop the harassment of British trawlers in those waters. The offer from our side is entirely open.

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