HC Deb 23 April 1975 vol 890 cc1469-70
13. Sir John Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has of the profitability of the Scottish fishing fleet during the last six months of 1975.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

It is too early to estimate the effect of the changes in the fleet which are needed to enable it to adjust to the new costs and earnings situation and the measures taken, or contemplated, for protecting the market against low-cost imports.

Sir J. Gilmour

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we welcome his safe return from the Law of the Sea Conference and hope he will be able to tell the House what estimate he has made of the possibility of this conference ensuring that particularly the herring industry in Scotland can look forward to this summer with some confidence?

Mr. Brown

I am glad to be back. It is too soon to say what conclusions might be arrived at following the Law of the Sea Conference. It still has two or three weeks to run. The matter of herring quotas is causing us concern because of the scientific advice which has recently been given to us drawing attention to the need to conserve stocks.

Mr. Watt

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a severe deterioration in the economic viability of the Scottish fishing industry since he met fishermen in Aberdeen? Will he consider placing a temporary ban on all imports of fish to try to ameliorate the situation?

Mr. Brown

Some steps have been taken. I wish the hon. Gentleman would give us credit for what we have done. The fishing industry has not got worse just because I met—[interruption.]

Mr. William Ross

I wish members of the SNP would shut up and listen.

Mr. Brown

The fishing industry has not got worse just because I met the fishermen in Aberdeen. Steps have already been taken, which the hon. Gentleman would not even recognise or give us credit for, and some of these alarmist statements are not helping to get a return of the confidence that we are entitled to expect following the steps that we have taken to deal with frozen imports.

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