HC Deb 16 April 1981 vol 3 cc420-1
6. Mr. Brotherton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement about negotiations over the common fisheries policy.

4. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on negotiations for a common fisheries policy.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I have nothing to add to the statement which my right hon. Friend made to the House on 30 March.

Mr. Brotherton

Is my hon. Friend aware of the great anxiety in the port of Grimsby about the proposal to establish a box to the north of Scotland from which vessels over 80 ft in length will be excluded? Is he aware that that, will affect not only such vessels but the port of Grimsby as a whole, where many of my constituents work?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

No proposals have yet been agreed on that aspect of the common fisheries policy. I accept that what has been discussed has an effect on ports such as Grimsby. At the same time, my hon. Friend should appreciate that we must examine the overall benefits of such proposals for the United Kingdom fishing industry as a whole.

7. Mr. Jay asked

the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether it is still the policy of the Government to insist on the United Kingdom 50-mile dominant preference zone in the negotiations for a European Economic Community common fisheries policy.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As I have made clear to the House on many occasions, the Government's objective is to obtain an adequate zone of exclusive access with preference beyond that designed to benefit coastal communities particularly dependent on fishing.

Mr. Jay

Does that mean that the Government have surrendered the condition of a 50-mile dominant preference zone, which was one of the most crucial points in the fisheries negotiations?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There are a number of different ways in which preference beyond an exclusive zone can be interpreted. It is interesting to note that the proposal for boxes, which might help communities dependent upon fishing, commands considerable support in the fishing industry.

Mr. Mason

Is the Minister aware that the House gave him and his right hon. Friend unanimously agreed negotiating objectives for a common fisheries policy? Was not one of those objectives the 12 to 50-mile dominant preference zone for United Kingdom fishermen? Is he saying that, in spite of talks with the fishermen, he has dropped that objective?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Not at all. I said that there were a number of ways in which preference beyond 12 miles could be achieved. It is significant that the industry broadly supports us in our approach to particular areas where communities are dependent on fishing to ensure preference for our fishermen. That proposal has the support of the fishing industry.