HC Deb 26 March 1975 vol 889 cc475-6
18. Sir J. Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what amounts and value of fish, excluding shellfish, are at present landed in Scottish ports by vessels under 40 feet in length.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

Vessels under 40 ft. contribute between 1 per cent. and 2 per cent. of the quantity and value of such fish landed at Scottish ports. Provisional estimates for 1974 indicate a value of the order of £700,000 and a quantity of about 100.000 cwt.

Sir J. Gilmour

With the large amount of fish involved and the need to support the fishing industry, is it not unfair to leave vessels under 40 ft. out of the present arrangements?

Mr. Brown

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern. However, he should not talk about a "large" amount.

I have already indicated the provisional figure for 1974. In 1972 the figure was £1 million, and in 1973 it went down in value to £800,000; the quantity fell from 200.000 cwt. to 100,000 cwt. Therefore, although 1 recognise that it makes an important contribution to Scottish fishing, it is still only in a proportion of 1 per cent. to 2 per cent.

Mr. Watt

If all members of the fishing industry are prepared to take a slightly lower subsidy to enable those who fish from boats of under 40 ft. and those who fish for shellfish to participate in the subsidy scheme, will the Department take a fresh look at its decisions?

Mr. Brown

I have already indicated that this is a purely temporary contribution. The hon. Gentleman knows the problems, because we have discussed them together. If there is any desire on the part of either section of the industry to make a voluntary and co-operative effort, there is nothing to stop anybody taking action if he is willing to help somebody else. If there is some intention to do so, we would not stop such action, and possibly would encourage it. I wish members of the SNP would appreciate that there is a difference in operating costs between vessels below 40 ft. in length and those above that length, up to 130 ft.