HC Deb 23 February 1982 vol 18 c742
14. Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the effects of the reduction of the British fishing fleet upon Royal Naval reserve and support capabilities.

Mr. Wiggin

We have plans to take up a number of fishing vessels for minesweeping purposes and a variety of support roles in time of war. Despite the decline in the deep-sea fishing fleet I am confident that sufficient vessels are available to meet our needs.

Mr. Atkins

Is my hon. Friend aware of the concern of people both in and outside the fishing industry about the future of the minesweeping operation because of the decline in the fishing industry? What steps is he taking to keep in training, those fishermen who are now not sailing the high seas because there is a reduced number of fishing vessels?

Mr. Wiggin

The fishing industry has not traditionally been a major source of volunteers for the RNR. We are keeping an eye on the number of available trawlers that would be needed in time of war. I repeat that there are still a satisfactory number available.

Mr. McNamara

Is the Minister aware that as a result of the sale of trawlers from the United Kingdom the number of vessels available to the Navy will be greatly reduced? Can he further say whether we shall have any fishing fleet upon which the Royal Navy will be able to draw if his colleagues in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food do not obtain a satisfactory CAP?

Mr. Wiggin

As the hon. Gentleman well knows, that question is not for me. I assure him that, when military considerations are taken into account, we have enough trawlers available for our needs in time of war.

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