§ 15. Mr. Robert Hughes
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the EEC common fisheries policy negotiations.
§ 5. Mr. James Johnson
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made with the EEC regarding finalisation of a common fisheries policy.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
I refer the hon. Members to the statement made in the House yesterday by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, concerning the outcome of the meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers that was held on 29 October.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that within all sections of the fishing industry there is a great deal of concern that time is slipping past and 1982 is approaching rapidly? Will he assure the House that he will press for an early agreement—one which follows the main principles which my right hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) sought to achieve and which still has the full backing of the fishing industry?
§ Mr. Walker
The hon. Gentleman is right. The industry is anxious to reach a settlement because the uncertainty is bad. We stick by the principles that were agreed by both sides of the House. It was agreed at the recent meeting of the Council that a paper should be tabled which will form the basis of new negotiations rather than to link us with the proposals on the table that were totally unacceptable to us.
§ Mr. Mark Hughes
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that effective regional fishing plans can emerge from these discussions?
§ Mr. Strang
Will the Minister assure the House that any EEC fisheries settlement will be put to a vote in the House?
§ Mr. Walker
I shall give the same assurance as that given by my predecessor, under whom the hon. Gentleman served: that, in terms of any negotiations, I shall endeavour to keep the House totally informed, but if there comes a point in the negotiations when I have to reach an agreement, as the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me said, I shall have to do it and defend my position afterwards.