§ 37. Mrs. Winifred Ewing
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what initiatives he will take to ensure that Her Majesty's Government will secure reform of the common fisheries policy, in terms of policies and timing.
§ Mrs. Ewing
I thank the Minister for agreeing that the matter is of extreme urgency. Will he tell the House what legal room he considers he has, under present arrangements, to declare a 50-mile unilateral limit for conservation purposes? Our fishermen hunt for fish for human consumption, not—as many do in the other member States—for industrial consumption, and are, therefore, better conservationists. Will not the hon. Gentleman also realise that these fishermen, who were pawns in terms of EEC entry, are now—and this is a very serious matter —pawns in the common fisheries negotiations with third countries, and that the 65 per cent—.
§ Mr. James Johnson
Is my hon. Friend the Minister of State aware that in this Chamber a few days ago his colleague, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, stated that at the last Ministers' meeting he had been so incensed that he had stated that he might go it alone if he were forced to do so. Is that Her Majesty's Government's policy? Would my hon. Friend care to comment?
§ Mr. Judd
The Government's policy is to work for a sensible common fisheries policy. However, to be sensible and effective that policy must take account of the fact that approximately 60 per cent. of 666 the stocks of fish available to the Community are in British waters. Furthermore, our fellow members of the Community must recognise the contribution that is being made by Britain towards the Community's needs. That is something that we are determined to see reflected in the outcome of the discussions about a policy.
§ Mr. Powell
Can we be sure of securing our objectives on this, or any other, vital matter if we have bound our hands in advance by declaring our membership of the Community to be permanent and unalterable?
§ Mr. Judd
The right hon. Gentleman knows better than most that no Parliament can bind any successor, but what we have repeatedly said is that we are now determined to work as hard and as effectively as we can, together with our colleagues in the Community, to make the best of the Community in the interests of our own people, as well as those of the people of the Community as a whole. The interests of Britain will be better served by getting on with that than by continuing to argue whether the decision in the referendum was right or wrong.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
Will the ban on herring fishing in most of the waters around our coast continue into 1978–79?