HC Deb 24 October 1979 vol 972 cc393-5
1. Mr. McQuarrie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much money will be made available to the Herring Industry Board for the year 1980.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Younger)

The board's levy on the sale of herring will provide it with a very modest revenue, probably less than £10,000. As regards the scheme of grants and loans for building and improving herring vessels which the board administers for the Government, it is our policy to provide a reasonable level of funds. In the financial year 1979–80 the expenditure is expected to be around £1.25 million. The provision for 1980–81 will clearly require to be considered carefully in the light of the structure of the industry.

Mr. McQuarrie

As there is a total ban on herring fishing, is my right hon. Friend aware that fishermen who previously made application to the Herring Industry Board for grant and loan now find themselves forced to do so to the White Fish Authority? As that authority was granted only £1 million by my right hon. Friend's Department, is he aware that it is essential that the £1 million should be greatly increased, bearing in mind that last year over 1,652 applications for improvement were made by the fishing industry?

Mr. Younger

I share my hon. Friend's concern about the position in the industry. It is necessary for the preservation of stocks for the ban to continue until stocks have recovered. In considering provision for the coming year I shall take into account all that my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Grimond

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to give the House any information about the allegations that the French are illegally catching herring in considerable quantities in EEC water?

Mr. Younger

I have seen the reports. Inquiries have been put in train through our usual departments to ascertain what truth there is in them.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Has the right hon. Gentleman any further information about allegations that the Grimsby boat, "The Grimsby Lady", a purse seiner, has been landing herring in two Danish ports? If we are to obtain reasonable finance for the herring industry, we must ensure that the herring ban is not broken by anybody, including ourselves.

Mr. Younger

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. We have followed up every report that we have seen of unauthorised landings of herring whether in this country or abroad. I shall endeavour to obtain further information about the case referred to by the hon. Gentleman, and I shall write to him.

Mr. Myles

Will my right hon. Friend keep himself constantly informed about herring stocks in the North Sea so that as soon as possible he may obtain an allocation of herring for our fishermen?

Mr. Younger

I shall. However, as long as there is scientific advice to the effect that it is necessary to restrict fishing in this way we must heed that advice.

Mr. George Robertson

If the right hon. Gentleman is to make inquiries into allegations that have appeared in The Daily Telegraph, will he undertake that once he has completed the inquiries he will make a statement to the House? The charges against the French Government are quite serious—namely, that their trawlers are apparently breaking the clear EEC instruction that there shall be no herring fishing. Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that a statement will be made when the allegations have been denied or substantiated?

Mr. Younger

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman says. First, we must ascertain the facts as far as we can. I shall find the best way I can of informing the House of the results of my inquiries.

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