HC Deb 10 December 1975 vol 902 cc433-4
2. Mr. Sproat

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to meet representatives of the Scottish fishing industry.

The Under Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Hugh D. Brown)

A meeting was held with representatives of the United Kingdom fishing industry on 23rd October and further discussions took place on 5th December with the Scottish fishing industry. There are no plans at present for another meeting.

Mr. Sproat

I am grateful for the close watch that the hon. Gentleman keeps on the industry. Did he take away from that last meeting an understanding of the deep concern that the industry now feels on two matters in particular? The first is that nothing whatsoever appears to be happening with regard to the common fisheries policy. Will he urge the Secretary of State to go to Brussels himself to start to get some action on this subject at last? Secondly, did the fishermen put to him their deep concern about the fuel oil costs, which could add another £800,000 a year to the Scottish Trawlers' Federation's burden when it is already losing a lot of money? If some subsidy is not continued, we shall see 25 per cent. of the fleet tied up again next year.

Mr. Brown

I do not necessarily accept the hon. Gentleman's final point at this stage. Yes, I share the deep concern. On Friday the representatives submitted facts and figures to me as they saw them. We are examining them and we shall obviously consider the implications of their case. It is not true that nothing has been done about the CFP. We expect to begin further discussions shortly on the basis of proposals being produced by the Commission and initiated, I might add, by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. Therefore, action is proceeding and I should have thought that, within the next few weeks or months, there would be visible evidence of it.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government appreciate that the presence of the Secretary of State in Brussels may be necessary at some appropriate time. We are not reluctant to attach to fishing the importance that it deserves.