HC Deb 14 March 1979 vol 964 cc433-4
7. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress is being made on extending the pout box.

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

I share the right hon. Gentleman's wish to see the pout box extended northwards to 61°N, and we have made this clear to the European Commission. We now await the outcome of a study by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, which may provide the basis for a new measure.

Mr. Grimond

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer, which follows representations made to him at a meeting with the Orkney and Shetland representatives. Can he give any indication of the timing, because the matter is becoming urgent? When does he expect to make further progress?

Mr. Brown

A report from the working group is with the international council at the moment. As soon as that is submitted to the European Commission we shall be able to decide whether there are grounds for pressing our claim.

Mr. Sproat

Does the Minister accept that the extension of the pout box is only one measure being urged on the Government by the fishing industry? Will he say what immediate and, if necessary, unilateral action the Government propose to take to ensure that only one size of net is carried on one vessel in United Kingdom waters?

Mr. Brown

That does not arise out of this question. As the hon. Member knows, it is only one of a number of aspects of conservation measures which we will be pursuing at the appropriate time.