HC Deb 02 July 1979 vol 969 cc904-5
29. Mr. Sproat

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the open line radio channel for use by fishing vessels.

Mr. Tebbit

The open line scheme that came into operation on 1 April provides a radio channel on which fishing vessels beyond VHF range can report their positions to shore stations. I hope that, in the interests of safety, fishermen will make increasing use of the facility.

Mr. Sproat

Does my hon. Friend agree—in the light of the tragedy of the loss of the "Carinthia" last week and the loss of no fewer than 22 lives in North-East Scotland over the past year—that more use should be made of the open line by the fishing industry. Will my hon. Friend undertake to have urgent consultations with the various fishing interests to seek to persuade them to do just that in the future?

Mr. Tebbit

I agree with my hon. Friend that lives could well be saved if fishermen would make more use of the facility. It is comparatively new, and I hope that they will make greater use of it in the coming winter. I shall consider what more I can do to encourage them in that direction.