HC Deb 30 October 1980 vol 991 cc676-7
3. Mr. Adley

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent discussions he has had concerning the future role of the sea fisheries committees; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

I am reviewing a number of local fisheries matters and I intend to issue a consultation document which will cover, among other things, the sea fisheries committees.

Mr. Adley

In view of the experience that we have had of regional water authorities and the personalities of the fishermen involved, will my hon. Friend take it from me that he will not need to undertake much consultation to understand that few fishermen want anything to do with sea fisheries committees being subjugated or taken over by, or merged with, regional water authorities? Will he give an assurance that that will be more than carefully borne in mind in the consultations?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Not least because of the direct representations that I have received from my hon. Friend, for which I thank him, I am fully aware of the specific points that he has made. I assure him that those matters will be taken fully into account in the review.

Mr. Beith

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the opinion that has just been expressed from the South of England is even more strongly held in Northumberland, where there would be tremendous resentment if the sea fisheries committee were to be taken away, and even more resentment if its job were to be given to the regional water authority?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Far be it from me to be an arbiter on the strength of regional feelings. I recognise the strength of feeling in the North-East as well.

Mr. Henderson

Is my hon. Friend aware that considerable concern has been expressed about the suggestion that the functions and responsibilities of sea fishery committees might be extended beyond river mouths? Will he assure us that that would not be done without wide consultation with, among others, representatives of Scottish fishermen?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There will be consultation on all these matters that affect the fishing industry.

Mr. Hicks

Does my hon. Friend agree that regional water authorities already have enough to do and that they are still settling down, even though they have been in existence for about six years? Transferring the power of the sea fisheries committee in Cornwall to the regional water authority would create not only opposition but resentment.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I assure my hon. Friend that no decision has been taken on the matter. Representations have been made, and if the functions of sea fisheries committees had to be altered in the way that has been suggested legislation would be required and the matter would have to come before the House.

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