HC Deb 16 April 1981 vol 3 cc419-20
5. Mr. Austin Mitchell

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in the light of the common fisheries policy deadlock, whether he will now introduce unilateral national conservation measures on mesh sizes, one net rule, beam trawling, and restricted access to specified areas.

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

A satisfactory EEC regulation covering all the matters mentioned by the hon. Member is in operation now, and has been since 1 October 1980.

Mr. Mitchell

Did not the Conservative manifesto promise such conservation measures on a national basis if negotiations did not get anywhere? Does the Minister accept that, unless he maintains and exercises our right to impose national conservation measures, we shall surrender control of our fish stocks to a regime that is largely unworkable and is operated by countries that have demonstrated by their attitude to fishing that they are untrustworthy? Does he agree that if that happens we shall have abandoned our control over that vital national resource?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The hon. Gentleman cannot have heard what I said. These measures, some of which were originally national measures, have been taken over by a Community conservation measure. In view of the hon. Gentleman's attitude to Europe, I can understand that he is disappointed that the common fisheries policy can operate such measures.

Mr. Mason

Although there should be concern about conservation, is not another matter more important? When does the Minister intend to report the findings of the inquiry into cheap fish imports? When is there likely to be an agreed Common Market solution to cheap fish dumping in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The investigating group met for the last time on Tuesday. We expect to receive its report shortly. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we are extremely dissatisfied with the Commission's action on imports at below reference price from third countries. We shall continue to press the Commission extremely hard on that.