HC Deb 11 March 1981 vol 1000 cc874-6
11. Mr. Myles

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will convene a meeting of all sections of the Scottish fishing industry so that a common solution to the industry's internal problems can be sought.

Mr. Younger

I have taken the opportunity on a number of occasions to stress the interdependence of the catchers, salesmen, merchants and processors in particular and I shall continue to do so. As my hon. Friend knows I have frequent contact with the fishing industry.

Mr. Myles

In view of the delay in achieving a common fisheries policy, will my right hon. Friend continue to do everything possible to encourage all sectors of the fishing industry? In the meantime, will he encourage them to work together for the common benefit?

Mr. Younger

I very much welcome what my hon. Friend has said. I have heard recent reports of informal meetings of catchers and processors, aimed at reaching a better understanding. I am sure that that is the best way forward.

Mr. Grimond

Can the Secretary of State say what the next step will be in the negotiations for a common fisheries policy?

Mr. Younger

I do not wish to anticipate the statement that my right hon. Friend will make after Question Time today with your permission, Mr. Speaker. In the course of his statement he will give the results of yesterday's discussions.

Mr. Sproat

Does my right hon. Friend share the growing concern of the fishing industry about the use of the British flag by foreign-owned vessels? Has he any evidence that foreign vessels flying the British flag are taking advantage of British grants, loans and quotas? If so, what immediate action does he propose to end that abuse?

Mr. Younger

I am aware of that problem, and I know that my hon. Friend has been concerned about it for some time. We shall be discussing the matter with the industry in the context of the structures package as part of the common fisheries policy negotiations.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Has the Secretary of State yet been able to respond to requests by the Aberdeen Fish Curers and Merchants Association to meet him or his noble Friend the Minister of State to discuss the problems of the fishing industry?

Mr. Younger

I have no knowledge of the date that has been fixed, but either my noble Friend or I will be glad to meet its representatives.

Mr. John MacKay

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the problems of the herring fishing industry is that, due to the limited opening of the Clyde fishing, the processing industry is almost disappearing? Is he further aware that the result is that there is no real market for herring during the opening time? Will he consider extending the opening time for herring fishing, to protect the fishing part of the industry and to give the processors the fish on which to work?

Mr. Younger

I appreciate the problem that my hon. Friend describes. This is the type of matter that we keep under review. But it would not be right to put future stocks at risk to enable us to put right a short-term problem. That outlines and underlines what I said originally—that there is interdependence between catchers and processors, and one cannot look at the interests of one without taking into account the interests of the other.

Mr. Millan

As it is clear that the settlement is to be delayed further, can the Secretary of State say what proposals he has to provide further assistance to the fishing industry? If such proposals are not to be included in the statement this afternoon, when shall we have a statement about them?

Mr. Younger

A case was put up by the industry about 10 days ago. As promised, we are urgently examining it. We hope to be able to make a statement fairly soon, but not this week.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

When the statement is made later, I hope to call those hon. Members who have not caught my eye on this subject at Question Time.

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