HC Deb 15 July 1982 vol 27 cc1179-221

[Relevant documents: European Community Documents Nos. 7787/82, 7786/82, 7788/82, 7863/82 and 7954/82, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's unnumbered explanatory memorandum of 7th July 1982, which amends the annexes to Documents Nos. 7863/82, 7786/82 and 7788/82 by revising certain total allowable catches and quotas for 1982, and the White Paper on Developments in the European Community January-June 1981 (Cmnd. 8365).]

Mr. Speaker

Before we begin the debate, I wish to tell the House that all hon. Members except one who have said that they want to speak have strong constituency interests. They will be called only if their colleagues make brief speeches.

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

4 pm

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

I beg to move That this House reaffirms its commitment to a 12 mile exclusive limit, dominant preference in the 12 to 50 mile zone, effective conservation measures, and catch quotas for the United Kingdom which fully reflect the extent of fishing stocks in United Kingdom waters and the loss of fishing opportunities for the United Kingdom in third-country waters as the essential requirements for the United Kingdom in any acceptable Common Fisheries Policy, and accordingly demands that the United Kingdom Government refuse to agree to any Common Fisheries Policy settlement that does not secure these essential requirements. The debate is about the approaching settlement of the common fisheries policy. Associated documents make clear what is likely to be in that settlement. I read the Government's amendment with astonishment. It refers to maintaining the need to secure an exclusive 12-mile limit, preference outside 12 miles"— there is nothing in the documents about that—and the need for adequate quotas for the United Kingdom". The documents make it clear that on limits and quotas there has been a massive sell-out by the Government. It is no use tabling a motion with weasel words which suggest that the issue is still to be fought, because we know that the Minister has accepted the basis of the Commission documents on our protection limits and quotas.

The Minister's bacon has been saved by the Danes. The last time the Minister was saved by the French. He is now saved by the Danes' retreat from coming to an agreement. After the previous occasion the Minister was involved in a series of surrenders to the French along certain sectors of the coast to secure their agreement. The Government amendment refers to the search for a solution on the outstanding issues". There is only one outstanding issue—what danegeld will the Minister pay to achieve the Danes' agreement? He cannot now easily go back—although we shall urge him to do so—and reject the earlier agreement.

The Government amendment is fearfully inadequate for the realities of the crisis. I remind the House of what the Prime Minister said in Aberdeen. It is amazing what a visit to a fishing port can do for her. On 26 April 1979 she said: We shall make fishing top priority in our EEC negotiations. The proposals we have so far received from the EEC have been totally unacceptable. Using the tough words to which we have become accustomed, she added: Our European partners must accept three fundamental facts. One was that the move to a 200 miles limit since we joined the Community had changed the situation and, secondly, that our waters contain more fish than the rest of the Community put together. If one considers what has happened to the industry since we entered the Common Market we can understand the strength of her words.

When we examine the solutions we realise how much the Prime Minister has failed to fulfil her pledge. I should not use the word "pledge" because the Tory Party rarely gives such a thing. Tories proceed by nods, becks, hints and implications. But the Prime Minister's words were stronger than that.

Since we entered the Common Market the deep and mid-water fleet has declined by 80 per cent. Humberside is especially affected. For every boat fishing today there were five before we joined. The inshore fleet in England and Wales has also deteriorated. Of the 969 vessels operating in 1980, half were over 25 years old and only 13 per cent. were under 10 years old. The decimation of the deep-water fleet and the ageing of the inshore fleet has had its impact.

In Scotland the figures are better. Of the 1,000 vessels operating in 1980, 20 per cent. were over 25 years old and one-third under 10 years old. And, on top of this, there has been a loss of jobs in the processing factories and the docks, sometimes on a massive scale.

The documents set out the proposals, not just for one year, but for the continuation of a derogation for the next 10 years, and the process for renegotiating for yet a further 10 years. We are considering the future of the industry and these proposals are inadequate.

In her speech in Aberdeen the Prime Minister also said: our negotiating aims will be for: 1. an adequate exclusive zone. 2. a further considerable area of preferential access. The Government amendment refers to the need to secure an exclusive 12-mile limit and preference outside 12 miles. Over the years the House has stressed the importance of a 12-mile limit and a 50-mile dominant preference area. That 50 miles has gone and there is no mention in the documents of anything to substantiate that the Government will seek preference outside 12 miles.

With the exception of Scottish waters—and not all of them—for the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland coasts we have achieved, not a 12-mile exclusive zone, but effectively a 6-mile exclusive zone. The exceptions and grants of fishing rights to other countries between the 6-mile and 12-mile limits make nonsense of the claim that we are establishing a 12-mile limit.

We pressed the Government to provide maps. I telephoned the Ministry yesterday to see what was happening and I was told that it would not be helpful or suitable for such maps to be made available for public examination. We know why. It is that such maps would show that not a 12-mile exclusive zone, but a 6-mile zone has been established.

Fishermen in the Irish Sea worry about over-fishing. They believe that their waters are being opened up and that there is a desperate need for protection and conservation. They have been partly helped because of the restrictions on beam trawling. However, even the 12-mile exception that they have been granted is insufficient. For example, although there is a 12-mile exception in Morecambe Bay, one can almost walk out for about six miles before starting on the so-called 12 miles of water.

Without a major headland to headland demarcation, 12 miles do little to give real protection. All those who fish for the main fish, such as plaice, sole and haddock, are fearful of the results. We see the same thing, and perhaps even worse, along the entire East Coast and the South Coast. There is a real opening up of the waters, and, where the limit has been extended, the exceptions remain massive.

The right hon. Gentleman will say that these were historic rights, but these were surely what the Minister, and the Prime Minister when she made her statement were thinking of. The Prime Minister spoke about special measures to deal with the loss of third country waters and the new 200-mile concept. Given that, it is nonsense to talk about a 12-miles exclusive zone. Right along the East Coast, with the only exception being the Wash, there are incursions of one kind or another by our Common Market partners in the 12-mile limit.

From Berwick to Coquet the limit is 12 miles—except for Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany, who can fish for herring. From Coquet to Whitby there is the 12-mile limit—except for the Germans and the Dutch, who can fish for herring. From Flamborough Head to Spurn Head the limit is 12 miles—except for the French; and so it goes on right down to the south-east corner of England. Right across the South Coast to Lyme Regis, France has permission to fish for all fish and Belgium and Germany for some fish. The whole apparatus is almost designed to conceal—I do not blame our Common Market partners for that, I blame the Government—the fact that it is not a 12 mile exclusive limit but a 6-mile limit, with six miles dominant preference. This is presumably what the Minister means by some kind of preference outside the 12 miles. He has effectively shrunk it to the six miles. That is why the maps that would have shown the extent of the sell-out were not available.

I remind the Prime Minister of what she said on quotas, when she said that we have to remind our Common Market partners of "three fundamental facts". Fact two was that our waters contain more fish than the rest of the Community put together. Point four in negotiating aims was that Britain must have a very substantial share of the total allowable catch which takes account of the fact that we are contributing most of the water and most of the fish. In practice, we have only had a small concession on the seven principal species of fish of another 0.5 per cent.—from 35.6 per cent. to 36.1 per cent. On the species for human consumption. The quota has gone up from 28.8 per cent. to 29.8 per cent. This is in the context of the fact that our waters contain two-thirds of the fish stock, yet of the fish for human consumption the quota is for less than a third. In other words, it is half the amount that would be any respectable response to the fact that we have two-thirds of the water and of the fish.

This is against the tough words of the Prime Minister and her colleagues about what our EEC partners must expect and accept from her. The problem is that we are running against the clock. The hon. Member for North Fylde (Sir W. Clegg) said in our debate last December that the time was half an hour to midnight. It is now five minutes to midnight. In a couple of weeks' time we shall be in recess, and by the end of the year we must have an agreement. We have the documents and the Governments have agreed, with the exception of the Danes and they have rejected the agreement not because they want less, but because they want more, which, by definition, means less for us.

The EEC has come up with an astonishing solution. If we cannot have adequate quotas for everyone, it says, let us increase the size of the stock. They have created an extraordinary fish called a paper fish. It is not so much a Paul Daniels sleight of hand, but a Tommy Cooper sleight of hand—the trick has failed because the fishermen have seen through it. This paper fish has been created in a cynical way. Against the advice of the scientists and against the reckoning for the conservation of future stocks, they have pushed up the total catch available.

There has been a 50 per cent. increase in North Sea and Irish Sea whiting. Most disturbing of all, and particularly disturbing to Scottish fishermen, is the pushing up of the mackerel allowable catch by one-third, a staggering 101,000 tonnes. No wonder Fishing News said "Fish now, pay later."

That manoeuvre has angered and disturbed the fishermen who are concerned about the future of the industry, even if the Minister is not. The attempt to conceal this basic sell-out has been seen, and the sell-out continues. The most recent document, which I did not know was in front of us until I saw the italic additions to the Order Paper today, is concerned with third country waters. Even there, the unnumbered document of 7 July showed a reduction in Norway cod by 1,000 tonnes and a corresponding increase for the Germans. There has been a reduction in Norway haddock and an increase to the Germans. There has been a decrease in cod and haddock for us from the Faroes, with an increase for France.

With this mixture of conjuring tricks, it is hoped to fulfil the promise of achieving an agreement with the industry. As it is now clearly understood by the fishermen, and as the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food says that he will not come to an agreement without the assent of the industry, I hope that the Minister does not try to fob them off with this catch 22. I hope that they will understand that even though he is pointing a pistol to their heads, against the clock and with a background of the possible diversion of fishing up to our beaches, if the common fisheries policy is not agreed, the responsibility is not theirs but that of the Government. The Minister must not fob off the responsibility on the fishermen to force a shotgun wedding which he can use to ride to political safety.

I wish to have some clarification on some of the workings of the common fisheries policy, as they have been virtually agreed with the Government. For example, document 7594 outlines the workings of the future common fisheries policy. In it, article 11 provides that conservation, regulation, the total allowable catch— shall be adopted by Council acting by a qualified majority". Article 14 provides that the management committee can give an opinion "by a majority". If the matter goes to the Council, the Council can act by a qualified majority.

This could be serious and I want clarification because, while this may not be applicable to the negotiated catches each year, it is applicable to a great deal of the workings of the common fisheries policy and, above all, of policing. Incidentally, the Prime Minister in her famous speech in a fishing port in an election year said that we must have a control system which enables us to police our own waters. One of the aspects of the majority vote is the policing system. If there is one thing that is common in all the representations from the fishing industry, it is the inadequacy of the policing methods and the faulty inspections—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We have a reaction from the Tory Benches. It is nothing to do with fish. "Police" is a trigger word for those people.

I wish to have clarification about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the veto in this respect. Is it the case that crucial questions such as policing and conservation, total allowable catch and methods of policing can be decided by a qualified majority? Where does this leave us?

We are in a sorry state. We gave ample warning to the Government. It is hateful to say "I told you so", but many of us must say that. We were assured by the Minister in the other place, Lady Tweedsmuir, that if anything went wrong, we at least had a veto. We had no veto. All that a veto could do would be to allow fishing up to our beaches. We told the Government that, and they did not accept it.

The Prime Minister said in Aberdeen at the general election: Fishermen will find a true and determined friend in the next Conservative Government. She could have fooled me. She also said: Further conservation measures will be taken by Britain acting on her own if we cannot get agreement upon these points. Let the Prime Minister act now. She has shown a good deal of boldness in the past. She has demonstrated it over the past two or three months. I remind the Prime Minister that many of the men who sailed to the waters of the South Atlantic were from fishing stock—I come from the same stock—which provides many of our sailors and merchant seamen. Let her act with the same resolution on the fisheries policy and we shall back her.

The Government should tear up their silly amendment and accept our motion. Let the House be unanimous in the fight for dominant preference in the 12 to 50-mile zone. Let the Minister act on his own, if need be, as the Prime Minister has instructed us to do on other occasions, and we shall give him our support.

4.22 pm
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Peter Walker)

I beg to move, to leave out from 'That' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House welcomes the further progress achieved by Her Majesty's Government in the search for a satisfactory revised common fisheries policy, particularly in relation to conservation, marketing and control; confirms that such a policy must maintain the need to secure an exclusive 12-mile limit, preference outside 12 miles to protect particularly dependent fishing communities, adequate quotas for the United Kingdom, effective conservation measures and a community-wide system of enforcement as well as improvements in the marketing arrangements hitherto in force; and urges Her Majesty's Government vigorously to continue, in consultation with the fishing industry, the search for a solution on the outstanding issues. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) spoke as I expected. He has always been opposed to any European policy. Therefore, he is opposed to a European fisheries policy and so he puts his name to the motion on the Order Paper.

Mr. Austin Mitchell (Grimsby)

My hon. Friend wants an honourable deal.

Mr. Walker

I would be only too pleased to trace the history of this matter and the way in which it has been dealt with by successive Governments. I would be happy to compare our record in the fishing industry with that of our predecessors.

Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

Compare it with the Government's promises.

Mr. Walker

I remind the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West that the sad figures that he gave for the decline of the long-distance fleet also apply to the period when the hon. Gentleman's Government were in office. He was a member of that Government for a short period. The hon. Gentleman did not bother to mention this. The figures were also a result of the Icelandic war, which his Government fought and, perhaps sadly, lost. The hon. Gentleman thinks that, in anything, the European Community is the reason for all our ills.

That remarkable bias came through in other parts of the hon. Gentleman's speech. He talked about access and said that six miles was no use in certain areas, as one could not reach the waters to fish, unless the limit extended from headland to headland. All the Commission proposals are headland to headland. He did not understand that basic fact, which shows his ignorance.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the reduction of our quotas off North Norway. He did not mention that that was more than compensated for by the proposals for Greenland cod and Rockall haddock. That was typical of the overall bias of the hon. Gentleman's presentation.

Let us examine the background and what the Opposition are asking in their motion. The motion has been changed from the motion that was proposed in the debate in December. They have inserted words that seem to imply that what is acceptable to the Opposition, which is different from when they were in Government, is a total of all the fish that would be in our 200-mile territorial waters, if we had them, plus extra fish for the loss of Icelandic waters when its 200-mile limit was imposed. That would come from all our partners in Europe. They would be asked to agree to give up 40 per cent. of the fish that throughout history they have fished. They would be asked to give up all their historic rights. The other nine member countries would be asked to reduce their fishing industries on a massive scale. The Opposition would expect people such as their good Socialist comrades Herr Schmidt and Monsieur Mitterrand to say that they have decided that, because there is a possibility of taking advantage of a 200-mile limit, they will give up all their fishing industries to do so.

The hon. Gentleman invited me to accept the motion. I could have done so. When negotiation was impossible, I could, as my predecessor did, have come constantly to the Dispatch Box saying that I had agreed to nothing and that I would allow the fishing industry to continue to decline, as it did under the Labour Government.

Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

Is the Minister aware that, in the debate on 9 December, the Secretary of State for Scotland said that our motion meant exactly the same as the Government's motion?

Mr. Walker

My right hon. Friend amended the Opposition's motion and made it much more sensible. Every explanation was given why.

Let us recognise that the tactics suggested by the Labour Party resulted in the decline of the fishing industry in port after port during its period of office. The Labour Government's record of aid to the industry does not compare with our record of aid. In addition, without any threat of any description, the Government, in every negotiation, have worked in harness and harmony with the industry.

Yesterday, the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West had talks with sections of the fishing industry. Those sections did not demand what is in the Opposition's motion. I had talks with all three sections of the fishing industry today. They are not asking for what is in the hon. Gentleman's motion. They are asking for what they consider to be a settlement that will be in the future interests of the industry and will give them better prosperity in the future than in the past. That is what they are seeking and that is what I am seeking. I shall make clear some of the background to that.

Mr. Buchan

The fishermen have made it clear to me that they cannot allow themselves to be held responsible by the Government for any breakdown in negotiations. Therefore, they are seeking to get the best possible deal within the narrow parameters of the Commission documents.

Mr. Walker

Any member of the fishing industry who has worked with me for the past three years can publicly deny this if it is not true: no part of any negotiation that I have conducted on any topic has been carried out without the agreement of the fishing industry. I have proceeded step by step with those people, discussed and agreed objectives with them. That will continue. That is different from the approach of the Labour Government, who delivered to the fishing industry nothing but rhetoric—years of rhetoric and no progress on fishing policy.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

If what the Minister says is true, why does the NFFO state that its delegation was subjected to extremely heavy ministerial pressure following the NFFO's rejection of the quota and access proposal?

Mr. Walker

The rest of the fishing industry was also present at that meeting. The NFFO sat with me and the rest of the industry on a Friday to discuss historic rights and access detail by detail, but on the Monday it said something different from what it had said to me on Friday. I asked for an explanation. I asked whether it would not go along with any negotiation unless there was an elimination of every historic right in the agreement. The NFFO replied to me, in the presence of the rest of the fishing industry, that at the end of the day it would want to decide the balance of the agreement on its total merits. It was not stuck on any one issue.

As members of the NFFO caught less than 20 per cent. of the total catch I asked whether the NFFO wanted to veto the requirements of the rest of the industry when the rest of the industry wanted a particular agreement. The reply was "No". That is an accurate description of what took place. That is what the NFFO described to the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West as pressure from a Minister. It was a clarification of the NFFO position.

I return now to the vital question of access. It is important that the House puts on record once and for all—

Mr. Austin Mitchell


Mr. Walker

I shall give way in a moment. I have given way a great deal more than the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West did.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

That is a typical reply.

Mr. Walker

As the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) knows better than most, I do not have a bad record for giving way.

I wish, however, doubtless to the deep embarrassment of the Opposition, to trace the history on access. First, I shall clarify the position. Until 1964, we had a three-mile limit and beyond that any ship from any country could fish. In 1964, with no disagreement in the House or elsewhere, we signed the London convention in which, in moving to a 12-mile limit, we agreed the historic rights of other countries within that 12-mile limit. With the negotiations to join the Community in 1973 and with the Treaty of Accession, we agreed further historic rights in our six to 12-mile limit.

I wish to remind the Opposition that they decided when they renegotiated the terms of our entry they did not wish to renegotiate the terms on fishing. The Opposition, who are now so critical of the Treaty of Accession with regard to fishing, decided that fishing was not among the items for renegotiation. In fact, there is on record a splendid letter from the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which tells the fishing industry why he considered it was not necessary to renegotiate on fishing.

The Opposition talk a great deal about the 200-mile limit and the fish in our waters. The most important and interesting moment came in 1976. A proposal came forward that we should extend the 200-mile limit for all European countries as a Community. That was the moment to discuss or decide what benefit or disadvantage we, the United Kingdom, would have if we decided to agree with our Community partners to extend to the 200-mile limit. It was the Labour Government in 1976 who decided to extend the 200-mile limit for this country within the context of it being part of European waters. That was not a Conservative Government but a Labour Government. What is interesting is that in those negotiations the Republic of Ireland said "Because there is a lot of fish in our sea, if we are going to extend our 200-mile limit we want an agreement to have perhaps double the fishing quotas of our historic fishing." That was granted to the Republic of Ireland.

The Labour Government negotiating at that time asked for and obtained nothing. That is the position on access and I am glad to have this opportunity to put that on the record. The Opposition keep telling me how many fish we have within the 200-mile limit and how we should go for all of it. The time to have negotiated that was in 1976, but it was sold for nothing by the Opposition. That is the historic position.

Mr. Buchan

I am completely free from that charge.

Mr. Eric Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

So am I.

Mr. Buchan

It should not be forgotten that I resigned from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman should, too. It might be helpful. When I was talking about the 200-mile limit, I was quoting the Prime Minister. She said that that essential factor had to be kept in mind by the Common Market when discussing the shift to the 200-mile limit. The right hon. Lady bowled that ball, not me.

Mr. Walker

I can understand why the hon. Gentleman dissociates himself from the activities of the Government in 1976. I am sure that it was a great relief to everyone that he resigned at the time. The time to have negotiated—the fishing industry recognises it—on the benefits to Britain of the 200-mile limit was in 1976.

The Hague agreements are now part of the legal position that I inherited in 1979. I inherited the London convention rights, 1964, agreed without any disagreement in the House. I inherited the Treaty of Accession rights, with further historic interest granted in the six to 12-mile limit. It is against that background that I had to begin negotiating improvements in our access provisions.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

The right hon. Gentleman has twice appeared to suggest that rights conferred between six and 12-mile limits by the Treaty of Accession were historic rights. I challenge that. I do not believe that there is any evidence of a French historic right along the east coast of England, for example, in Northumberland and Yorkshire. That right was not contained in the London convention and when it was conceded in the Treaty of Accession in 1976 no one suggested then that it was a historic right.

Mr. Walker

In terms of the Treaty of Accession rights there are a number of historic rights that we would dispute. The country concerned cannot perhaps show much evidence of historic tradition in that area.

I turn now to the negotiations that have been carried out since. After the demise of the Labour Government and after their agreement to The Hague agreements and their decision not to renegotiate the Treaty of Accession, I inherited the position that in 2,000 miles of our coastline there were historic rights in the six to 12-mile area. Over the past three years, with the help of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, I have had detailed and prolonged negotiations. I am still not satisfied and I hope that further improvements will be obtained on the proposals, as outlined by the Commission, on the 73 per cent. of the coastline where there were legal, historic rights, and that there will either be an eradication or reduction in those historic rights. Therefore, I wish to make it clear to the Opposition that their desire to table motions whereby there will be no agreement will mean that if there is no agreement the Treaty of Accession rights and the London convention rights will continue unamended. Therefore, it is not in the interest of the British fishing industry to throw away for nothing a negotiation that has already substantially improved on a position that the Labour Government continued through their Hague agreements. They lost a marvellous opportunity to improve our position.

In terms of access provisions, our objective is to continue to improve that position to the maximum. We shall do that in the negotiations that take place. We shall do the same on quotas. The only quota that the Labour Government obtained in their years of negotiation was given to them when the then Minister decided not to go, for whatever reason, to the meeting of Fisheries Ministers in Berlin. They did a deal in his absence and provided quotas, which in terms of the majority of species in which our fishermen are interested, were much worse than the quotas on offer today. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West referred to "paper" fish. Among the fish that were offered then were substantial quantities of an undesirable fish called the horse mackerel.

With regard to quotas, we have examined with the industry stock by stock, area by area. The preference along our coastline is not just for access but for the proportion of the quotas that we are to obtain in the waters. In negotiation after negotiation we have steadily improved the quotas of the species that our fishermen consider the most financially rewarding.

Mr. Mark Hughes (Durham)

What is the improvement in our quota percentage of North Sea cod since 1978?

Mr. Walker

I notice that the hon. Gentleman does not mention the five species in which there is a major improvement.

At this stage we do not know the figure that we shall end up with for North Sea cod. A major factor is the negotiation with Norway from which we expect a substantial extra volume of cod to be made available. We have told the Commission that we expect a major portion of that to become available to the United Kingdom. In his usual courteous and charming way I know that the hon. Gentleman will rejoice if we achieve that improvement.

Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

It is surprising that the right hon. Gentleman has not referred to the increased TAC for mackerel. Our mackerel stocks are at risk. The catch in the past two years has provided ample evidence of that. Surely the Government are not prepared to accept the increased TAC for mackerel, which my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) described as paper fish.

Mr. Walker

I have expressed my anxiety to the Commission, and will do so again at the meeting next week, about quota, or TAC increases, not based on scientific evidence. One difficulty is that the figures proposed resemble the amount that British fishermen took out of the stock the previous year. Another factor is that in the absence of an agreement the uncontrolled overfishing of mackerel stocks is much greater than if an agreement were obtained. However, I share the hon. Gentleman's view. To build up future stocks we must have an arrangement toughly based on scientific evidence. But over the past year British as well as foreign fishermen have overfished the stocks.

The future structure of the industry is of considerable importance. If we succeed in negotiating the common fishing agreement we can better decide its future structure. I have already talked with leaders of the industry, and shall continue to have official talks with the major organisations. One proposal in the structural part of the package is for European financial grants, two-thirds of which will be of substantial interest to our industry for modernisation and scrapping older vessels. There is an important potential for our industry.

I come to the most basic point. It was dealt with in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West quoted and in the manifesto, which I am pleased that he did not quote this time after his inaccurate quote previously. The emphasis was on the urgency and importance of proper controls. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) has said that that is the most important aspect, too.

Right from the beginning, 12 or 15 months ago, we made it clear that we shall not be satisfied with a common fisheries policy without enforcement; it would be meaningless. If, for instance, the Danes fished double their quota, the objective of the policy would be destroyed. We stated to the Commission that we would not agree to a common fisheries policy unless there was an effective inspection and policing system. We have attained the right to police our territorial waters. We shall see that the resources are made available to do that effectively and well. But we wish to see that other countries are forced to do the same. The suggested regulation was virtually drafted by the United Kingdom. For the first time it brings into operation the power of enforcement and inspection to make sure that quotas and TACs are abided by. That is the best growth potential for the fishing industry. Only by building up the stocks will real growth take place.

I can in no way express optimism that agreement will be reached in the meeting next week. Much negotiation is still to take place on quotas, access and other details. As has been said, the Danish Government are expressing disapproval. The Danish fishermen have gained most from there being no agreement; they have overfished.

I emphasise strongly that for three years I have worked with the industry to find an agreement that will be of benefit. It will be of immense importance if we succeed. If we fail it will not be for want of trying. Refusal and failure might reap immediate cheers from the Opposition at the Dispatch Box, as happened to my predecessor. But we must try to agree on policies to build up the stocks and to improve on what has existed over the past 10 years.

4.46 pm
Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

The Minister's historical record would have been more truthful had he told us that, had we not joined the EEC, we should, like Norway, now be enjoying a 200-mile exclusive zone.

We have retreated a long way on the common fisheries policy since the original surrender in December 1971 for which the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) were largely responsible. Even as recently as 7 August 1980 in a debate on the common fisheries policy the House voted unanimously that we should obtain exclusive access within 12 miles, preferential access within 12 to 50 miles, and an overall share of fish for United Kindgom fishermen which reflects United Kingdom losses incurred in third country waters"—[Official Report, 7 August 1980; Vol. 990, c. 934.] We have now been reduced to a motion that merely reaffirms the exclusive 12-mile zone and preference outside that to protect particularly dependent fishing communities. There is no mention of the 50-mile preference zone.

The House and the country should realise why we are in the hopeless negotiating position that the right hon. Gentleman described. He described the position accurately but did not tell us how we got there. The blame rests almost wholly with the Government of the right hon. Member for Sidcup, who, in their indecent hurry to force us into the EEC before the public understood what was happening, sold out the industry in December 1971 and January 1972 and deceived Parliament and the public.

I will recount the hard facts. In 1971 we had already lost the Iceland fishing grounds because the world was moving from a 12 to a 200-mile limit. Before very long, not just Iceland, but Canada, Norway, the Soviet Union and other countries obtained a 200-mile exclusive zone as a basis upon which they could negotiate. If we had remained outside the Common Market, we would have obtained the same 200-mile zone, and our zone would have been particularly well stocked with fish.

Realising that, in 1971 the French rather hurriedly cooked up a common fisheries policy in which every EEC member's zone would be open to all. The Norwegian Government, who were then seeking to join the EEC, together with ourselves demanded a continuing—not just temporary—exemption from that pooling of the whole area.

The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon)—he has not come to watch the result of his action today—promised in the House on 11 November 1971 that we would secure "comparable treatment to Norway". He also promised the House on the same day that however long the initial period there must be arrangements on a continuing basis subject to review."—[Official Report, 11 November 1971; Vol. 825, c. 1239.] The crucial question was whether in that review, which is what we are having now, the promised veto in the EEC would be in the hands of the British who wanted to continue the concessions, or in the hands of the French who were determined to end them.

In December 1971 the Norwegians refused to give way on the temporary nature of the concessions and demanded a permanent arrangement as a condition of joining the EEC. At that point—we should remember this today—the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Sidcup, as he had promised us comparable treatment with Norway, put urgent and secret pressure on Norway to surrender so that we could surrender too. Indeed, in that month he sent the notorious telegram to the Norwegian Prime Minister that was later leaked to the public and which contained the words: It is very important for us that we present this question in a manner which will appear satisfactory to our fishing interests. That was the way in which the negotiations were conducted.

To their lasting credit, the Norwegians refused to give way, insisted successfully on a continuing arrangement, and eventually, in the interests of their fishing industry, obtained a 200-mile exclusive zone by the simple expedient of staying out of the EEC altogether.

But that was not quite the end of the negotiating performance of the right hon. Members for Hexham and Sidcup. They made statements that were designed to deceive the House and the public into believing that at the end of the 10-year period the veto would be in the hands of the British and not the rest of the EEC.

On 13 December 1971 the right hon. Member for Hexham reported the agreement that he had reached and said that before the end of 1982 a committee would examine the arrangements—this is where we are now—that could follow those that were negotiated for the next 10 years. He then asserted flatly that these are not just transitional arrangements which automatically lapse at the end of a fixed period. In reply to an Opposition question he again repeated that the Opposition were quite wrong in saying that these are purely transitional arrangements".—[Official Report, 13 December 1971; Vol. 828, c. 52–55.] The next day, 14 December, the Foreign Office representative in the House of Lords, Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, whom my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) has already mentioned today, no doubt speaking out of ignorance rather than malice, positively asserted that the veto would be in British hands. She said: As to whether we have given up our rights to an automatic veto, that is not so, because we have declared that fisheries are of course a vital national interest, and that being so they attract the unanimity rule."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 14 December 1971; Vol. 326, c. 1004.] Therefore, at that time the Government were not merely relying on the unanimity rule that we now find does not exist, but were also wrong about whose hands would hold the weapon. Those statements were direct falsehoods about the Treaty of Accession which had not then been published. The treaty was only published after the then Prime Minister had signed it on 22 January 1972. It said: Before 31 December, 1982 … the Council, acting on a proposal of the Commission, shall examine the provisions which could follow the derogations in force until 31 December 1982. In Common Market jargon and law, a derogation ends automatically unless everybody agrees that it should continue.

That is how we came to be placed in the hopeless bargaining position in which we are today and the full responsibility for that should be understood. That is how the British fishing industry has suffered the damage that it has in the 10 years since. Those were the deceptions on the basis of which the House was persuaded to agree, by a small majority, the Second Reading of the European Communities Bill only a week or two later.

On 20 January 1972 a vote of censure was moved by the Opposition on the Government's negotiating methods. In that debate I predicted that in trying to achieve a reasonable long-term settlement when it came to 1982, the Government would be negotiating … with all the legal cards stacked against them … any other Member of the EEC in this case can veto the continuance of this derogation after 1982 and we cannot, by veto, ensure its continuance".—[Official Report,20 January 1972; Vol. 829, c. 731.] That is where we are today and that is the story of surrender and deception that got us here.

Mr. John Townend (Bridlington)

I accept that mistakes were probably made at the time that we negotiated Britain's entry into the EEC, but would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the former Government, of which he was a supporter, should have dealt with the problem when the terms were renegotiated?

Mr. Jay

If those terms had not been negotiated there would have been no need to renegotiate them. Once Britain got into that position it was exceedingly difficult to get out of it, other than by withdrawing from the EEC.

The guilty men were the right hon. Member for Sidcup and the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham. To be fair—the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) wants me to be fair—the present Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food cannot be blamed for all this. He was one of those who opposed joining the EEC. How right he was. However, unhappily for him, he is not allowed to remind anybody that he was right. He can merely privately put on the fishing industry what it calls "heavy pressure" and tell it that he will do his best if only it will not criticise him in public.

About two-thirds of our fishing industry has thus been virtually destroyed in recent years. It is worth remembering in passing that our industry used to be one source of recruitment and training for the Royal Navy. If we withdraw from the Common Market, we should regain the 200-mile zone and save our fishing industry. If we do not withdraw, we shall obtain, perhaps, a six-mile zone. I am still not clear even whether that will be for a limited period or, for example, for 20 years. That is the choice that faces us.

There is no doubt that the rescue of the fishing industry would be one, though only one, of the major economic benefits of withdrawing from the EEC. Meanwhile, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not know whether you are proud that we have a Government whose Foreign Secretary was unable to protect British territory, whose Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was unable to protect the British fishing industry and whose Home Secretary was unable to protect the Queen.

5.2 pm

Sir Walter Clegg (North Fylde)

We have had a historical review from the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and I could almost have said it for him for he has been a consistent critic of our entry into the Common Market and a consistent critic of the terms of entry that applied to fishing. He took that stance at an early stage.

I do not intend to follow the right hon. Gentleman down that road because I have other things to talk about. I merely say that if we had not joined the Common Market and we now had a 200-mile limit, the issues would be much simpler and this Byzantine delay would not have occurred. But I do not think that all would necessarily have been smiles. The extension of the other fisheries limits and, for my own port, the loss of the fishing grounds around Iceland were the decisive factors rather than entry to the EEC. The middle water fleet was deprived of the waters to which I have referred and that was the greatest loss.

When I made my first speech on fisheries in the House about 16 years ago this very month, the situation was completely different. At that time the limit was three miles. It was then increased to six miles and it was further increased to 50 miles and finally to 200 miles. For hundreds of years we had had a three-mile limit and a free-for-all beyond that. The deep sea industry—especially the large freezer boats—would have had a terrible problem even if we had not entered the Common Market.

The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East (Mr. Buchan), who opened the debate on behalf of the Opposition, said that on a previous occasion I said that it was half an hour to midnight. I agree with him that we are now considerably closer to midnight. My right hon. Friends have often seen delegations from Fleetwood representing the port and fishing interests and they have attended many meetings in Brussels. If we have a proper settlement, we shall have the prospect of a balance which will make Fleetwood a viable port. It will consist of about 10 middle water trawlers and about 70—I hope more—inshore vessels. I and the Fleetwood port generally are concerned that that there should be an increased quota in the Irish Sea for the inshore fleet and that the port should be able to send its trawlers to "sensitive waters", which is the term that is used in the somewhat Byzantine papers that are before us.

A port such as Fleetwood has to have a proper balance. It has to have an inshore fleet and it has to have a deep sea fleet, or middle water fleet, to fish when the other vessels cannot bring fish ashore so as to maintain a constant supply of incoming fish. In my right hon. Friend's negotiations I hope that he will stress the importance of the Irish Sea quota and the availability of Scottish waters and Shetland waters to our middle water vessels.

It is known generally that the fishing industry is crying out for cash. Last year it received £25 million but there has been nothing this year so far. One of the greatest drawbacks of EEC entry has been the long and tortuous negotiations which have taken place and the deep uncertainty which they have produced. I know that my right hon. Friends have done their best and have had to suffer disappointment after disappointment as others have before them. However, the inshore fleet is old because of the uncertainty. It has not been known what sort of vessels to build as there has been uncertainty about the seas in which they would fish. If we can get a settlement with honour and if we can achieve restructuring of the fleet, the result will be a tremendous benefit. I wish my right hon. Friend well when he renews the negotiations.

It is not only the vessels that go to sea that have suffered. The port installations have suffered also because not enough fish have passed through them. I should like to see some help given in that direction. If that is possible, it will be of tremendous advantage to some of the ports that have suffered most. I hope that my right hon. Friend will bear that in mind. I do not care whether the cash comes from Europe or from the Government as long as it is available and enables us to have a modern and restructured fishing industry.

5.8 pm

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

The hon. Member for North Fylde (Sir W. Clegg) made an eloquent plea on behalf of his fishing port. I recall the Fleetwood trawlers that I used to see alongside my home town of Stornoway when I was a boy. I remember also the trawlers from Hull. We hardly ever see those trawlers now. There is something in what the hon. Gentleman said about the long distance fleet having lost out through the loss of the Icelandic waters, but there have been far more damaging consequences as a result of our entry into the Common Market and the common fisheries policy than is covered by that explanation alone.

I think that both sides of the House will agree with the following: The fishing industry is an essential part of the British economy, particularly in Scotland. It is a vital source of food and provides jobs for thousands of people both at sea and on shore, often in small communities that rely totally on fishing for their livelihood. Who could quarrel with those sentiments? They were part of the statement issued by the Prime Minister prior to the general election. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) made effective use of that statement when he opened the debate on behalf of the Opposition.

In the light of that, it is all the more disturbing that there appears to be not the slightest doubt that we are on the verge of an agreement on fisheries. According to all the reports—they seem to be well founded—the policy will have disastrous consequences for our fishermen and the communities which depend wholly or largely on fishing for their livelihood.

In The Times today there is an editorial headed A Curate's Fish Of A Deal". That is a reference to the deal that is in the offing. As I understand it, the effect of the old Punch joke was that the curate's egg was good in parts. That cannot be said of the deal that is in the offing according to what has been revealed. The article in The Times refers to those who believe, with considerable justification that over the years Britain's fishermen have been sold down the river. That is what many of us have said for a considerable time.

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) referred to the history of the matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said that the Labour Government did not even have fishing on the agenda during their renegotiations.

An editorial in The Times said of the Conservative Government's negotiations to enter the Common Market: In its eagerness to join the Community in 1973, the Heath government agreed to sweeping extensions to the so-called London Convention which allowed Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands access to British waters in which they had established 'historic' rights. Then, with the general move to 200-mile zones in 1976, the EEC decreed that all the territorial waters of member countries should in effect belong to the Community, and that they should all have the right to fish in them. This was greatly to Britain's disadvantage, since 60 per cent. of the entire Community fish stocks were to be found in what had been British waters. There is no argument about that. The editorial concluded: But the need to mach agreement quickly does not disguise the fact that it is still a poor deal. I have some sympathy for the Minister. He said that the position that he must defend had been breached to some extent. That is absolutely right. The ramparts were breached, first by the Conservative Government and then by the Labour Government's renegotiations.

Other serious consequences will follow in the wake of the diminution of the fishing industry. A widespread and prosperous fishing industry ensures a permanent stock of hardy and experienced seamen to crew the Navy in war time. The last war demonstrated the need for such reserves in a maritime nation. The recent Falklands affair has given the role of the Navy additional point. One would have thought that a Conservative Government, who claim to have a monopoly of safeguarding national defence, might be expected to consider that factor.

At an early stage there was talk of a 50-mile limit. That was reduced to an exclusive 12-mile limit. The right hon. Gentleman has emphasised recently that he has taken the leaders of the fishing industry with him. That is alarming to some, because we wonder whether Mr. Gilbert Buchan, a past president of the Scottish Fisheries Federation, stuck out for an exclusive 12-mile limit. I was disturbed to read last week that he now says that we must face the fact that we are a part of Europe. We have always been a part of Europe and always will be. Reading between the lines, that implies that agreement in the EEC will be reached and that we must take the consequences. If that minimum demand is breached, it will be a sell-out of the sticking point for our fishermen.

Breaches of quotas that are agreed within the Common Market are numerous and notorious. It does not do for the Minister to say that he has tied up new policies on protection. They have been breached time and again. Hon. Members on both sides of the House gave examples of EEC vessels fishing herring when there was a ban on doing so. A reporter from The Daily Telegraph saw herring in continental ports. The fishermen fobbed him off with an assurance that they were large sardines. Television film crews filmed landings of herring and other fish that were banned at the time. The EEC has breached its own agreements time and again.

A document issued by the Norwegian Information Department in September 1980 said: The EEC has confirmed to the Norwegian press that it has overfished its mackerel quota in the North Sea. Despite this fact, there are still EEC boats fishing mackerel. This clearly illustrates that the EEC has completely lost control over its own fishing activities. Norway has pointed this out several times—but without result". The Norwegian Government were therefore obliged to take a tougher line.

The Danes ask why there should be any quotas. They say that everyone should just go ahead. How long would fishing stocks last if that grossly irresponsible attitude became general?

The giving of fuel subsidies by EEC countries to their fishing fleets also creates difficulties. In spite of Scottish oil, such subsidies have never been payable to United Kingdom boats. Countries that surreptitiously give subsidies are unlikely to harass their own vessels about exceeding quotas. Historic rights should have been thrown into the pool in the present negotiations.

The Government amendment refers to "particularly dependent fishing communities". There is a fishing plan for my area, which the Government seem to have ignored in their negotiations. I am glad that the Shetland plan seems to be receiving support. Nevertheless, the Western Isles are at least as dependent upon herring fishing as that area. The same applies to other areas.

What is happening to the United Kingdom fishing industry is more than a crime: it is a blunder. Our fishermen's interests have fallen into faithless hands. They have been betrayed. The result will be catastrophe. I hope that the Government will founder in due course as a result of that.

5.16 pm
Sir Michael Shaw (Scarborough)

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said that the fishing industry often supports local communities that are entirely and traditionally dependent upon that industry. That is correct both for isolated communities and for those that exist within a wider community. Scarborough is one example of the latter. I am proud to represent it. The fishing industry there is proud and hard working. It lives an independent and forceful life within the wider community of the area.

It would be a tragedy if the industry were allowed to die back. That principally depends on the conditions of fishing. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Sir W. Clegg) said, it depends upon encouragement to build new vessels and to improve infrastructure for the industry. I have had some differences of opinion with my local authority on the matter. We should have more confidence in the future of the fishing industry. I have always maintained that we should encourage a great deal of expenditure on, for example, the building of a new jetty.

The need to provide infrastructure is fully understood by everyone. There are many ways to provide it. Outside help should be encouraged to build infrastructure for the working of an effective fleet.

I have two main points in mind. The first arises out of the meeting that my right hon. Friend the Minister will attend next week. No doubt others will follow. There is an overriding need for a Common Market fisheries agreement. The quicker we get it the better. There must be negotiation. No purpose is served by adopting attitudes that become hardened and incapable of amendment. The question is whether the final result of the negotiations is satisfactory to the parties concerned.

As I have said before—I hope that I shall have sufficient confidence to say it again—we are fortunate indeed in having as our spokesmen in the debates and negotiations in the Common Market the present Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister of State. No one could have worked harder or more positively in the negotiations than they. They have had terrible bad luck. Everything has been against them from the start. First, when they had discussed the matter with the former Commissioner, who was such a great friend to us, the Commissioner, alas, died. His successor then became seriously ill just when negotiations had reached a critical stage. A series of national elections then bedevilled any proper negotiations that might otherwise have taken place. Those events were no fault of our Ministers, but they have been daunting handicaps in the attempt to achieve a settlement.

I believe that in the end we shall achieve a settlement. My experience in the Common Market has been that if one knows what one wants and is convinced that one is right to seek it, in the end one will get it—although not so quickly as one wishes, so one sometimes feels very frustrated. Nevertheless, I believe that in the end we shall achieve a settlement.

It is essential for the Scarborough inshore fleet and, I suspect, many other fleets that the proposals for access and for quotas be discussed together. There must be a package agreement rather than a sectional process. Quotas can be adjusted fairly frequently as a result of discussions, but any agreement on access will be for the long term. Therefore, it is vital that the access terms should be correct. That is the most worrying aspect.

All the documents that have been produced are negotiating documents. I therefore regretted the tone adopted by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan). Of course we must voice criticisms and worries, but we must do so in such a way as to support and strengthen the negotiating hand of our Ministers. I wish to be sure that my right hon. Friend is under no illusions as to my views on the 12-mile limit and the access of the Dutch up to a six-mile limit off the Yorkshire coast. I believe that the same applies to the Germans north of Whitby, but I shall deal specifically with the case of Scarborough and the Dutch.

In the years since I became a Member of Parliament and in the period before the new arrangements came into force, experience showed that it was the powerful Continental boats coming in to the six-mile limit that did so much damage to the herring stocks—so much, indeed, that fishing had to stop altogether. It is not only herring that is affected. The boats are so powerful, the nets so big and the fishing methods so effective that everything is swept up. The result is—if it is not a contradiction in terms—a desert in the midst of the sea in which nothing grows or lives. That is a terrible thing and the cost to the fleet is devastating.

Therefore, in the negotiations, that limit should be examined very closely in relation to Dutch access. The methods used are not traditional and therefore bear no relation to history. They are certainly not methods practised by our own fleet. The conservation record of the foreign boats is not good, whereas we have taken a real and effective interest in conservation.

Having pressed that point strongly upon Ministers, I offer them, as I hope the whole House does, every encouragement for a successful conclusion of what we realise are extremely difficult negotiations. I hope that the practice that they have always followed in the past of intimate consultation with the industry not just before but during the negotiations will continue. In that way, I believe that we shall achieve an agreement of benefit to all.

5.26 pm
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

I do not believe that those who earn their living from fishing are very interested in who did what or when or who failed to do what or when. Like other hon. Members, I have my own strong views about that, but most people in the industry are now concerned to obtain the best possible settlement in extremely difficult circumstances. It is important that the settlement should favourably affect the whole industry rather than any one of its component parts. There are growing fears that some people in Europe would like to buy off the Scottish element in the industry while giving insufficient attention to the needs and problems of the English industry. When one examines the access map, it is striking how many of the problems arise south of the border.

Access is particularly important in my area, but it also has wider significance. I have often referred to the problems of the area from Berwick to Coquet Island. The Minister has several times given the impression today that there are long-standing historic rights justifying all that is still being given away in the proposed settlement. It is certainly an improvement on the Treaty of Accession. It is confined to herring and it names the countries to which it relates. That is not an improvement of substance, in view of other factors. We know which countries want to come here and we know the effect of the beam trawling ban on other fisheries. Nevertheless, at least on paper it is an improvement.

The proposed agreement, however, makes an enormous concession to the French and the Belgians. I know of no historical basis for any French claim to fishing rights in this area, nor have Ministers ever previously conceded such a claim. In a reply to me on an earlier occasion, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said: I have no doubt tht we can come to a satisfactory agreement on that topic with the Germans and the Dutch, who have an interest. The demands that we make will be totally in keeping with what I know are the views of the hon. Gentleman."—[Official Report, 11 March 1981; Vol. 1000, c. 888.] I do not know how the French have come into this. They have no historic rights. Yet rights are now being conceded to them.

Moreover, rights are being conceded without any indication of the methods of fishing to be employed. I am extremely worried that modern methods that no country has ever used before will be employed in these waters and that purse seiners will come into what was traditionally a drift net herring fishery. It is like a person has come into one's garden every year for many years to take a few apples from the tree for his family, and then, having not been seen for a year or two, suddenly arriving with a bulldozer intent upon uprooting and selling everything in one's garden on the basis of his historic right to take a few apples from the tree. The Minister must recognise that our herring fishery could be destroyed if fishing methods that were never the subject of historic rights are used under the concessions now being given. The same problem arises in relation to mackerel fishing in Cornwall.

Mr. Millan

The hon. Gentleman might be interested to learn that on 2 December 1981, in reply to a question, the Minister of State defined historic rights as those arising under the 1964 convention. They have nothing to do with the Treaty of Accession.

Mr. Beith

The Treaty of Accession did not confer a historic right. No one can claim that it does. It conferred no historic right where there was none before. I ask the Minister to refer to this and the fishing methods used under the historic rights when he replies to the debate. It is of enormous importance, not only in my own area but in many parts of the contested six to 12 mile area.

I remind the Minister that, with purse seining methods, a trawler from France or Belgium can take its quota from those areas in 24 hours. The quota was intended to provide a livelihood for fishermen over many weeks, using traditional fishing methods. In these areas there is no total allowable catch that we can refer to. No quota can be discussed because there has been a ban on herring fishing for some time. We do not know what proportion of the herring we shall be able to catch when that fishery is reopened. We hope that scientific evidence will enable us to reopen those fishing grounds soon, but we have no basis of knowing what position our fishermen will be in when that happens.

There are related problems further down the coast. A whole new area from Flamborough Head to Hornsea is to be reopened that was not open previously. It is an area like that in my constituency where there are many men engaged in fixed gear fishing whose gear, lobster pots in particular, could not stand the incursion of the trawling methods favoured by some other countries. We cannot allow pelagic trawling to develop in areas where fixed gear is used and where it would, in any case, destroy the herring fishing for good.

Similar access problems exist round the coast. What has happened to the proposal for what was colloquially called a small boat box in the Irish Sea, where scientists are worried about state of fish stocks and over-fishing has already occurred? Preferential treatment has been given to the French in that area, and in the Morecambe Bay area, but there is no record of French vessels traditionally fishing in the northern part of the area. Why, therefore, has that right to fish been conferred?

I am also worried about the prawn fishery off St. Bee's Head, where stocks could be quickly destroyed. That would not only affect the livelihood of our fishermen, but also the processing firms such as Youngs at Annan, which depend on the prawn stocks.

Sole has been overfished in the Irish Sea. Some of that was done, I suspect, to establish historic rights claims for the negotiations.

The problem has already been raised of the limits on the West coast. Because of the indented coastline, the limits tend not to include large areas of shallow water and fish breeding grounds.

I turn from access to quotas. How can the Commission dare to step up the quotas, against scientific advice, apparently in the hope of sugaring the pill or sweetening the bitter cup being offered to us? Will the Minister comment on what appears to those of us not closely involved in the negotiations, to be a manoeuvre or ruse? How can we pass a fair judgment on the proposals unless there is a fixed percentage for the quotas? How can we judge the future position if it is based on numerical quotas? How can we tell what will happen if the quota is increased? Will the increase go largely to other countries? If the quota is decreased, who will bear the brunt of that reduction?

Will the Minister also consider the problems in the whiting fisheries? New mesh sizes are due to come in for whiting in October, although there is no certainty, and no announcement has been made. Fishermen still do not know what gear to buy. That is another problem to which the Minister must refer on another occasion. Fishermen are anxious that, with the new mesh sizes, the whiting quota will be reached not by normal fishing methods, but by industrial fishing. The whiting will appear as a by-catch of industrial fishing. That industrial fishing will be carried out by the Danes. How can the Minister hope to make progress in dealing with the damaging level of Danish industrial fishing, and the by-catch implications, when he is dependent upon the Danes to reach an agreement? I am not criticising the Minister because I see this as an almost insuperable problem in the final, crucial stage of the negotiations. How can he do something about a type of fishing that is damaging our fisheries when Denmark is the country that is featuring in the deal during its final stages?

There are many other aspects and problems that I shall not deal with because I know that other hon. Members wish to speak. However, I emphasise the importance of these issues to our fishing industry. I reassert that our fishermen want to achieve the best possible settlement. They are not disposed to rake over the coals and ascertain who is to blame. They may decide to do that when we have the next general election. For the present, they want the political leaders in every party to concentrate on getting the best possible deal for the industry. That is the commitment I seek from Ministers. I seek answers to questions that worry me as much as they do Ministers.

5.35 pm
Mr. David Myles (Banff)

Nothing is to be gained by being over-pessimistic. Too often we hear the merchants of doom and gloom, so I shall give a few optimistic facts. Some remarkable information was given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Question Time last week. My hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Sir A. Costain) asked how many United Kingdom registered fishing vessels now fish in United Kingdom inshore waters".—[Official Report, 8 July 1982; Vol. 27, c. 447.] The reply was that in 1960 there were 7,278 vessels, in 1970 the figure was 5,410, in 1978 it was 6,765, and in 1981 it was 7,106.

Between 1960 and 1970, there was a considerable decline, but the 7,106 vessels in 1981 have a catching capability far beyond the 7,278 that were registered in 1960. Therefore, the message of doom and gloom that our fishing fleet has been sold down the river and that there has been a disaster is not true.

One or two other relevant facts might be of interest to the House. The gross earnings of the Scottish industry to April this year are 15.5 per cent. up on the same period for 1981. That is partly due to increased catches, but prices have been firmer despite the increased landings. In each of the three weeks beginning 15, 22 and 29 May the value of landings at Peterhead exceeded £1 million—a record in each case. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) would have given those figures if he had been fit and in the Chamber.

The value of landings at the port to May this year is no less than 28 per cent. higher than for the same period last year, with average prices up from £23.70 per cwt to £25.10 per cwt. The value of landings for the whole of last year was 13 per cent. higher than for 1980.

It is valuable occasionally to mention some of the good news in the fishing industry. There was no surge of cheap imports in the early part of this year, partly because of the lower value of sterling compared with the early months of 1981.

Fuel prices are now relatively stable, and commercial interest rates, due to the good handling of the economy, are gradually coming down. Nevertheless, one sector of the industry—the pelagic fleet—needs careful scrutiny. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) will agree with that remark, although I do not think that he was listening. The pelagic fleet includes the purse seiner, the most efficient method of catching pelagic fish yet devised.

Mr. Donald Stewart

That is the problem.

Mr. Myles

Some, like the right hon. Gentleman, might say that that fishing method should be banned; in fact, I think that he is just about to say it.

Mr. Stewart

I am not about to say it in those terms. I entirely agree that it is the most efficient method of catching fish, but that is the trouble. As the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said, it catches everything. It is disastrous for young stocks as well as for mature fish. Common fisheries policy or not, a time will come when the maritime nations depending on fishing will ban purse seining as a method of fishing.

Mr. Myles

The right hon. Gentleman's interesting observation confirms my view of his view, but I remind him that the purse seine method does not take everything. Given the size of the net and given the way in which the fish are taken out, the fish are not dead before they are taken into the vessel, so some of them can be released—if it is done properly.

Can the House imagine the outcry there would be in agricultural circles if it were to be said that the combine harvester should be banned and that we should return to the scythe? That illustrates the difference in efficiency between the purse seine netting and the old drift netting for herring to which some hon. Members seem to want to resort. It is because of the very great catching capability, and the skills of the men who man the vessels, that there is a vital need for sensible control to conserve our herring and mackerel stocks.

At present, control is lacking. Too often, last minute decisions are made, such as the postponement of the opening of the Minch herring fishery. Instead of opening at the beginning of this week, it is to open at the beginning of next week. Everyone was geared up to start at the beginning of this week. I hope that that kind of last-minute change in date can be avoided and that we can have better communications, so that the men who do the practical fishing may know exactly what they are doing.

Realistic quotas must be allocated. There is no point in allocating fortnightly quotas which do not allow a vessel to continue to be viable.

Much has been said about the EEC agreement, but I can tell the House that the fishermen of Banffshire—the new president of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation is a constituent of mine—want to see a common fisheries policy. They know that fish do not respect median lines. They know that they cannot control the Danish fishing methods and the full rape of the seas without a common fisheries policy and without control of the Danish fishermen. They know that we cannot have control of conservation and of restructuring without a proper CFP. They also know that the many problems in the industry, such as that of proper marketing, cannot be solved until we know in what environment we are operating.

I believe that we are to get a CFP, but when we get it it will not be the solution to all the problems of the fishing industry. Many problems will remain to be resolved.

We must ensure that our boatyards, on which the industry depends for repairs and alterations, are kept functioning. That means that there must be a minimum of new boat orders going into the boatyards, so that they can play their part in the restructuring that must come.

5.45 pm
Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)

I am glad that the Minister has returned to his seat. He has told us time and again that he consults the industry and, by inference if not by definition, that the industry is going hand in hand with him. I belong to a deep sea port, and I listen to my constituents, such as Tom Boyd. I do not know where the Minister gets his idea that they think that he is doing a good job or that he has done a good job for my city of Hull. I deny that he has.

Earlier, we were told that the Queen—I beg her pardon. We were told that the inmate of No. 10 had been to Aberdeen. [Interruption.] The right hon. Lady has also been to Hull, and we have got about as much out of her as Aberdeen must have got, judging by what was said by by hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), who opened the debate for the Opposition.

I should have been happier if the Minister had spent less time in dog-fighting about events in the 1960s and 1970s. That is of no use to me. He talked about cod wars and agreements. I was involved at the time, and I attacked the former Labour Minister, who is now dead, for his sell-out over the Oslo agreement. The Minister should not talk about sell-outs and the like, because I fear that in the next six months we shall be in enormous difficulties and that he will accept an agreement—when the Danes come out of their solitude—which will not satisfy us wholly or give us more than 50 per cent. of what we have been expecting for the last year or two.

With regard to quotas, are hon. Members on each side of the Chamber—particularly those from Scotland—satisfied with what is happening? Are the quotas which have so far been seen on paper, as defined by the Commission, generally acceptable to them? I have several qualifications to make. There should be more North Sea cod, and more West of Scotland cod and haddock. The figures for herring, for Scotland and for the North Sea are insufficient.

As an East Yorkshire MP, I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Scarborough (Sir M. Shaw). He will have Germans fishing for herring up to six miles off North Bay and South Bay in Scarborough in a little over six months' time, at the end of the 11-year agreement. We can talk about that on New Year's morning, perhaps, if I am in Scarborough.

I understand that an agreement is to be made about North Sea herring. What are we to get? Perhaps the Minister will tell us. I understand that the Scots are to get about 30 per cent. of the figure in the tables.

The one thing that I fear is an increase in the TAC—the total allowable catch. Is it correct that the figure of about 270,000 tonnes that was mentioned for herring has now become 370,000 tonnes?

Mr. Millan


Mr. Johnson

If it is mackerel, I have misread my notes. Is this an expedient to please the Dutch? We are getting back to bad old habits in which totals are increased to please those who have made claims. This makes nonsense of conservation. It may please the Danes and the Dutch, but it is no good to the United Kingdom.

Although the Commission knows that full well, talks are in danger of complete collapse. In its defence the Commission will probably say that even an agreement involving an increase of 100,000 tonnes is better than nothing. This would be monstrous for our fishermen. Our waters would be fished out of existence. I understand that the Belgians, the Danes and the Dutch do not want quotas. They will fish to kingdom come if allowed to do so.

For distant water fishermen in Hull, the position is totally unsatisfactory. We are giving too much to the Germans. Out of a Canadian quota of 12,000 tonnes, I understand that our share is 1,000 tonnes. I understand that the German quota in Greenland is 11,000 tonnes of cod and 42,000 tonnes of redfish. The situation in North Norway is the same. We seem to have come badly out of the negotiations, yet the Minister maintains that we have done well.

The Minister has given insufficient help to Hull and other deep sea ports. Aid has been inadequate, and further contraction of the fleet is inevitable. At one time we had about 50 freezer vessels. Now we have 21. Skippers, mates and deckhands have had to be sent to Otago in New Zealand to dispose of vessels that are unable to earn a living fishing in our waters.

I believe that the Government have gained as much access as we are likely to get. My neighbours representing constituencies in Yorkshire and the North-East can shout to the heavens, but the Government will not stop Germans from fishing up to the six-mile limit. The Minister may say that it is faute de mieux and that no better arrangements can be made. My case is that the Government have slowly eroded our position. An agreement cannot be forecast. The Danes are in a difficult position as a minority of one. They occupy the chair, but the Government in Copenhagen are weak. I do not believe that they will stand fast. I think that in the autumn they will accept what is proposed by the Nine. It will be argued that some progress, limited or otherwise, must be made.

I shall say no more about enforcement, except to ask whether any hon. Member believes that 40 inspectors can keep in order Belgians, Danes, Dutch and others, never mind ourselves, who are fishing in the North Sea and who wish to make a better living. The North Sea is like the Lebanon. No one in the Lebanon gets in or out as he wishes. It will become the same in the North Sea. The Israelis have moved into the Lebanon to enforce what they call law and order. Who will enforce law and order in the North Sea? We cannot do it. Many of my constituents who are on the dole would say that the Minister should buy about 40 fishing vessels now in St. Andrew's dock, install a six-pounder gun in the bows and stop the poaching that will undoubtedly occur after New Year's Day 1983.

Mr. Speaker

Six hon. Members are seeking to catch my eye. There are 35 minutes remaining for debate. It is up to hon. Members.

5.55 pm
Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)

I shall adhere, Mr. Speaker, to your implied suggestion.

I share some of the apprehensions of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson). We must have attended several dozen fishing debates over the past decade and a half. The hon. Gentleman was less than fair in blaming the Minister for what has led to the present situation. I still have a letter from the right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin), who was at one time in charge of these matters, thanking me for the fact that in those days he received support from hon. Members representing fishing constituencies when he was involved in no less difficult negotiations. I have always tried to support Ministers of whatever party to help achieve the best possible deal.

There is always a danger of fishing debates developing into an argument between pro-Marketeers and anti-Marketeers. I deplore that. I was not especially happy when my party leader took Britain into the Common Market without securing a much better deal for fishing. I was equally unhappy when the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) failed to correct in his renegotiations those aspects of matters that I thought had been previously neglected.

Now is the time to be realistic. We share collective responsibility for our entry into the Common Market. It was cheeky of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), the Liberal spokesman who has now left the Chamber, to say that the voters at the next election would be judging whether this country had achieved a good deal out of the Common Market. The one party that has always boasted of its faithful adherence to the Common Market is the Liberal Party. For the Liberals to start lecturing other people I find unacceptable.

It has been suggested that if Britain had not joined the Common Market we could have enjoyed a 200-mile limit as Norway has asserted. That is not realistic. A 200-mile limit to my fishermen would mean that they could fish in the waters of the Seine in Paris. To talk in terms of a 200-mile limit had we not joined the Common Market is nonsense.

My right hon. Friend has some way to go in the negotiations, and I hope that he will pay heed to speeches from hon. Members on both sides of the House and try to obtain further improvements in both access and quotas. But if the negotiations fail we cannot ask "Why did we not do something 15 years ago?" If the negotiations fail, my understanding of international law is that we shall be entitled only to a 3-mile limit excluding fishermen from Community countries in most of our waters and a 6-mile limit for those from outside the EEC. Such a settlement would not be half as good as that which the right hon. Member for Deptford has wished or that my right hon. Friend is trying to obtain.

Without wishing to appear too laudatory, I must say that my right hon. Friend is constrained by the limitations that he inherited from previous Parliaments and he is negotiating for the best possible deal.

I believe he can still make some improvements and I wish him well. We should consider other measures beyond Common Market negotiations as was suggested by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West. He said that, whether or not we failed in international negotiations, we should consider providing more aid to our fishing industry in whatever part of the country it may be.

I also have a point to make that directly concerns my constituency in the South-West. The paramount concern of South-West fishermen is the present lack of markets, for reasons that I cannot elaborate on now. It is not the size of the catch but the existence of a market for that catch that enables them to earn a living. The Secretary of State and his colleagues should consider those problems at the same time as trying to obtain the best international deal that they can.

6.2 pm

Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

The Secretary of State suggested that the Opposition had changed their position on the negotiations. That is completely untrue. Our policy has been consistent since we were in Government. We want an adequate share of the fish, adequate arrangements for preferential access and effective conservation measures.

In the negotiations, we have not yet obtained an adequate share of the fish. Some way must be found to chop the Danish quotas. The large amount of industrial fishing that is carried out by Denmark is inconsistent with sensible management of fishing resources. Of course the problem is difficult and one recognises the dependence on industrial fishing of Jutland and similar places but means must be found to compensate industrial fishermen and reduce their share of the quotas.

If any agreement is reached on the negotiations, it is vital that justice should he done to the legitimate claims of our fishermen for a dominant share of the herring in our waters, especially in the North Sea.

As to access, the Minister's comment about our historic rights within the Irish 12-mile limit is no justification for abandoning our position on the exclusive 12-mile limit. The quotas and the distribution of our share of the fish do not do justice to the dominant preference for which we were aiming within the 12 to 50-mile area. The Government have adequately protected the important pout box that we hope will remain for ever, but there are grounds for anxiety that too much has been conceded on the Shetland and Orkney box.

In an earlier debate my right hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin) spoke about Scotland's wider interests on the subject, but no one would deny that preference must be given to the local coastal communities for fishing in their waters. It is a cause of anxiety that we are talking not only about 50 licences for French vessels, but about a maximum of 50 vessels fishing at any one time. Far too much is likely to be conceded.

As to effective conservation, I hope that the Minister of State can say something about paper fish. The proposal would be a deplorable start to a policy which, if it achieves anything, must achieve the effective conservation and development of fish stocks. If agreement were to be achieved at the price of a high total allowable catch for mackerel, that would lead to the decimation of stocks. I and other hon. Members have said that we could decimate mackerel stocks in the same way as we decimated our herring stocks.

A few months ago we talked about a package of aid that we believed was imminent. Are the Government holding back that package as a sweetener to sell a Common Market deal that is inadequate in all other respects? Although some fish prices have become firmer, there is a desperate need for additional aid. The Minister said that the Government have given more cash aid to the fishing industry than the previous Government. That is true, but the need for the aid is now much greater. The Labour Government were always prepared to bring forward schemes to aid the industry.

What will happen if there is no agreement? Is it not time that we spelt out our determination to implement a national plan to maintain our interests should no agreement be reached before the end of the year?

The Government issued a statement this week detailing arrangements for the reopening of herring fishing in the West of Scotland. The Minister will be aware of the chaos last year when thousands of tons of prime fish were turned into fish meal. We now have a tremendous opportunity to re-establish herring fishing in Scotland. I refer not only to catches but to a national onshore programme with Government aid to develop processing and marketing. In my constituency and throughout Scotland hundreds of onshore jobs have been lost. Fish catches are leaving Britain only to be reimported from Eastern European countries and others. We had long arguments and discussions about that in debates on the Fisheries Act 1981 which set up the Sea Fish Industry Authority. I am glad that the Government are taking advantage of the powers that we persuaded them to take on the licensing of klondykers, but they must go further. We must eventually curtail and eliminate factory ships and klondykers. All the fish caught in our waters should be landed and processed in our ports and transported from them. That means real wealth and real jobs which are vital.

That, above all, is the importance of fishing to our people. It is part of our heritage. We are talking about the development of an indigenous industry. When North Sea oil runs dry and many of the fancy new industries to which the Government attach so much importance have ceased to be relevant, our people will depend on fishing, which will provide many valuable jobs.

6.8 pm

Mr. John Townend (Bridlington)

I wish to deal briefly with access and historical rights as they affect fishermen in Bridlington. The Government stated that the proposals now being negotiated are based on the historic rights that were established before, not since, we joined the Community and that no agreement would destroy the position that the Government have persuaded our fellow Community members to accept. If that was absolutely true, it would be acceptable to the fishermen of Bridlington, but unfortunately, in the proposals that were put forward at the previous two meetings of the Council of Ministers, there seems to have been a deviation from that principle.

It is proposed that the French will be granted rights to fish for herring between six and 12 miles in the area from Flamborough Head to Spurn Point. That is an area in which the Bridlington fleet earns a substantial part of its livelihood and in which my fishermen were expecting to have an exclusive 12-mile zone. There has been no record of the French fishing for herring in the area. Indeed, between Flamborough Head and Hornsea no such historic rights were included in the 1964 London agreement and as far as I know there is no record of the historic rights granted to the French being exercised between Hornsea and Spurn Point.

Indeed, I believe that the only foreign boats to have fished off that part of the coast have been Dutch and German and they played a significant part in fishing out the herring stocks. My fishermen cannot understand why the French should now be given rights that they have never had before. The only conclusion that one can come to is that they have been given as a sop to the French. The word going round Bridlington is that my right hon. Friend the Minister has managed to negotiate a better deal for Scottish fishermen. I do not want to stand in the way of a better deal for them, but my fishermen strongly object to their interests being sacrificed in this way. They have asked me to make it quite clear that the proposal is completely unacceptable to the Bridlington fishermen.

I therefore earnestly request my right hon. Friend to ensure in future negotiations that those bogus rights—which have never been exercised—are excluded from any agreement. My fishermen make two important points that are similar to those made by my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Sir M. Shaw). First, they say that, although quotas can be amended from year to year, access rights, once agreed, will last for at least one generation. Secondly, between Flamborough Head and Spurn Point the water is mainly less than 12 fathoms deep. Given the large nets used by modern French trawlers, they will extend from the surface to the sea bed and will scrape up everything living, or swimming, in the sea.

Under the conservation regulations the fishermen are supposed to throw back fish that are not herring. However, hon. Members will agree that in the process many of the fish die and untold damage can be done to the stocks on which the livelihood of my fishermen depend. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will accept that, whatever the regulations, they are never complied with 100 per cent. and that often, in practice, the fishermen will not throw back any fish.

My fishermen appreciate the efforts that Ministers have made to achieve a system of conservation that will be independently supervised. My fishermen think that they can live with the quotas that are now being talked about, although they would always like more. If my right hon. Friend can only close the wide gap, for which there is no historic justification, on the East Coast—mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith)—which allows the French to fish for herring in an area in which they have not fished before, I am sure that the fishermen in my constituency will support the acceptance of a settlement along the lines that the Government are moving towards.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. The three hon. Members who wish to speak can help each other by taking only five minutes each. Hon. Members can say a lot in five minutes, or at least I can.

6.13 pm
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)

I shall do my best to conclude my speech by 6.18 pm. I had a long speech to make about Hull, and unfortunately kissing the Blarney stone for five minutes will act as a considerable discipline in cutting my remarks.

If I give hon. Members the figures, they will see my argument. In 1972, 88,686 tonnes of wet fish were landed at Hull. In 1981, 15,274 tonnes were landed. In 1972, 43,106 tonnes of frozen fish were landed, but in 1981 the figure was 9,971 tonnes. That is a total of 131,792 tonnes of fish in 1972, compared with 25,245 tonnes in 1981. I shall now give the figures for the number of vessels in the Hull Fishing Vessels Association. In 1972 there were 59 freshers, compared with none in 1982. In 1972, there were 35 freezers, compared with 21 in 1982. In that same year there were nine seiners compared with none in 1982. Therefore, in 1972 there were 103 vessels compared with 21 vessels today. Of those 21 freezer trawlers, only 11 are currently fishing. Five of them have been taken into service in the Falkland Islands and of those four were operational fishing vessels.

That shows the decline of the deep sea fleet and of the port of Hull in the past decade. It is true that we suffered a great loss and a great blow as a result of the loss of access to Icelandic waters, but the loss of other third territory waters has affected us far more. The Hague agreement was a gentleman's agreement and was not binding on anyone. However, there was to be compensation for Fleetwood, Hull and Grimsby for their loss in the Icelandic waters. We have never received that compensation.

Let us consider the arrangements that have been made for fishing the seven main species of fish in non-EEC waters. Since the last abortive negotiations, the Government have lost or conceded over 5 per cent. In the earlier negotiations the figure was 37.9 per cent. but it is now now 32.8 per cent. In that same period, the percentage available to the Federal Republic of Germany has increased from 45.2 per cent. to 49 per cent. We are entitled to know whether there is to be no future for vessels fishing out of the port of Hull. However, if something is to be negotiated for Hull in the deep waters and if Hull is to be kept alive as a fishing port, the quotas—particularly outside EEC waters—must give us a chance.

There are 800 to 900 unemployed fishermen in my constituency. If that figure is multiplied by six, one has the land equivalent. As a direct result of the decline in the fishing industry several thousand people are unemployed. Those men may have voted Tory or Labour, but they were not responsible for the loss of access to Icelandic waters or for the EEC negotiations and the resulting agreements. Therefore, they are entitled to compensation. However, the Government have given no sign that they are prepared to say that the three ports are a special case. They have not said that they are not to blame and that the Government are responsible for compensating them for their loss and for the result of our EEC membership. The Government have not given any positive aid to those cities to retrain fishermen, restructure the fleet, and create new job opportunities. None of those aids has been forthcoming from the Government.

The port of Hull is entitled to expect help in compensation for what it has lost. No aid has been given. Unfortunately, the Minister is not in the Chamber but he was most upset when I accused him of blackmail. I said that he was blackmailing the industry, and in its paper the industry seemed to agree that that was so. However, this is a question not of blackmail but of complete indifference on the part of the Government. Even though the Prime Minister went to Hull and gave her promises, she has given us nothing, the fleet nothing, the unemployed fishermen in Hull nothing and the factory and process workers nothing. We deserve something better.

6.18 pm
Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

The debate has been well informed. All of us were fascinated to witness the political exchange at the beginning between my right hon. Friend the Minister and the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) about who was responsible for the crisis and whether or not the EEC proposals were satisfactory.

If a Labour Government had suggested the proposals as the basis for negotiation the Conservatives would have torn them apart, as the Labour Party is today trying to tear the Government apart. It is wrong to throw quotations back at colleagues, but as recently as June 1978, when there seemed to be a suspicion that the Labour Minister intended to settle for a 12-mile limit, there was an uproar on our Benches. The Conservative spokesman said: The Conservative Party remains firmly of the belief that a 50-mile exclusively controlled zone is the most practicable and best available way in which to get what we believe are our just deserts."—[Official Report, 15 June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 1245.] I quote that, not to praise the Labour Party or to criticise the Conservative Party, but to make it clear that if this agreement had been proposed by a Labour, Liberal or Scottish Nationalist Government we would have been outraged.

The Government have a special responsibility because a Conservative Government put us in an appalling negotiating position as a result of the Treaty of Accession which made it clear that there would be a problem in 1982. We have an obligation, because the alternative would have been the 200-mile limit now enjoyed by Norway.

It has been said that it is five minutes to midnight in terms of negotiations. We have a right to know the Government's firm view of what will happen if no agreement is reached. It worries me that questions to Ministers have been shoved aside time after time. We have been told "We have made our position clear." The matter has been raised repeatedly in negotiations with the fishing industry. The industry is constantly told "We must have an agreement, because if we do not get one by 1 January next year fishing up to our beaches will be possible." The Minister shakes his head, but that was said to me at lunchtime today by people who met the Minister this morning. I was told that by Laurie Gilson, the chief executive of the South-East of England fishermen's organisation, on whose word I would stake my life. It is wrong to try to persuade the fishermen to agree on that basis when no such statement is made in the House of Commons.

For the sake of the fishermen, whose lives and jobs depend upon us, for the sake of our housewives and for the honour of Parliament, the Government should say, on the best legal advice, what will happen on 1 January if there is no agreement.

Hon. Members have referred to combine harvesters and scythes. We must consider historic rights in that context. The argument is that 20 years ago the French operated one or two boats in our waters and that 10 years ago an agreement on historic rights was reached. What would happen if my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. Myles) told me that I had a right to reap some corn from his farm? If I appeared for 10 years running with a scythe, but turned up the next year with a combine harvester, my hon. Friend would take a different attitude to historic rights. That is what the fishermen of Southend and the South-East are worried about. Historic rights are based on limited performance and older boats. Today fishermen use the equivalent of the combine harvester.

If historic rights cannot be negotiated out, why can we not negotiate to phase them out? That would form the basis of an honourable agreement. We are told that historic rights cannot be avoided, but we could state that we aim to phase out historic rights. The inshore fleet might be convinced about a settlement if it contained a firm proposal to phase out historic rights over five or seven years.

In each debate until the last the Minister said that he would not agree to proposals without the industry's full consent. The Minister now talks about majority consensus. There is a big difference. Is the Government's view still that proposals will not be accepted without the industry's support? The Scots will probably be happy because they have a 12-mile limit, with two exceptions. The company boats will probably be pleased with the catch, but the English inshore fleet has to face the possibility of a six-mile limit. In the Southend area there would be a six-mile limit with almost unlimited access to the French beyond that.

The National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations has informed the Minister that the proposals do not constitute the basis of an acceptable and honourable settlement, and reaffirmed an exclusive twelve-mile limit around the entire British coast to be a minimum provision". That makes it clear that there cannot be a successful, viable English inshore fleet based on the present proposals.

I hope that the Government will make it clear that there is no question of an agreement without the full support of the NFFO and the English inshore fleet. I hope that there will be no attempt to use Government or taxpayers' cash, or so-called Common Market cash, to persuade people to sign a deal which will not provide security for the English fishing industry in the long term.

6.26 pm
Mr. Austin Mitchell (Grimsby)

This is no occasion and there is no time for political archaeology about who said what on the Common Market, but it is the time to ask whether we can with honour accept the emerging settlement. I started with high hopes of the Ministers. They are two wets cast abroad on the briny deep, perhaps for being wet. One of the Ministers was anxious to emulate the John Bull stance of his predecessor. The Minister of State has the interests of the fishing industry at heart. Both Ministers are honourable men. Yet the British industry is being betrayed and the English fishing industry is about to be scuttled.

Clear commitments have been made from the Dispatch Box and in the Government's manifesto. They were firm and strong at the start and yet the Government amendment now dilutes everything and has little to offer the industry. I am particularly worried about ports such as Grimsby, Fleetwood, Lowestoft, Whitby and Scarborough, because they will suffer mainly from the agreement that is emerging.

The marketing agreement, as it emerges, involves a system of reference prices 'which bear no relation to the cost of catching the fish. The policing system will be inadequate, because it will still depend upon the individual States enforcing their own measures. In many ports there is a conspiracy to cheat between the authorities and the fisherman. Forty Euro-inspectors will not be able to control that. The weight put on that policing mechanism by Ministers and officials cannot be borne. The agreement itself is unsatisfactory. We have granted historic rights, but not for historic methods. What might have been caught with the equivalent of a scythe 20 years ago is now being caught by what amounts to combine harvesters in fishing terms.

How will we enforce these historic rights? Will we Act as the Norwegians act against us and demand regular reports and impose stringent controls? We shall probably not do that. Yet if we do not, limits will be violated, and our policing will be a laughing stock.

We have granted historic rights where they do not exist. French fishermen now have the right to catch herring between Flamborough and Spurn Point, where French fishermen have never been seen by our fishermen. In that area there are 5,000 lobster pots and all kinds of gill nets. That is between six and 12 miles off the Yorkshire coast. Every herring in the North Sea breeds there and yet it is to be laid open to rape, to powerful French fishing vesels using subsidised fuel. They will be allowed to take the bread from the mouths of our fishermen, to take the fish from the nets, and the pots and the nets with them, as they trawl those waters.

The Irish Sea is a disaster zone. The Minister started by telling the industry that the French had no claim in the Irish Sea, but they have been conceded substantial claims, to the detriment of the fishermen of Fleetwood. Noel Coward observed that there was always something fishy about the French, and there is something fishy about the bilateral agreement which the Government have negotiated with the French. The Minister may congratulate himself on putting out other nations, but many of those nations would have had to go anyway because of the restrictions on beam trawling, so he has no cause for congratulation.

Even the quotas that we are allowed are being distorted by this political desire to create more paper fish to satisfy everybody. The North Sea whiting catch has been upped by 48 per cent. by the Commission, and Irish Sea whiting has been upped by 51 per cent. West Coast cod total allowable catches have been put up by 70 per cent. and rock or haddock by 80 per cent. These are paper fish, which will mean that the fishermen will have to fish far more intensively for longer periods to catch the same amount of fish, because conservation is not being respected, and the catches will go down.

Even the agreement that is emerging can be altered by a majority vote, because the Commission's management committee can, by a qualified majority—which I take to mean two-thirds—change what has happened. If that is not then changed again by the Council, again on a qualified majority, the decision comes into force. If the Scottish industry accepts this deal, it should recognise that Judas Iscariot at least received his 30 pieces of silver. This deal can be taken back by the Commission's management committee at any time by a qualified majority. This is not in any way a permanent settlement.

The Minister is selling out and he knows that he is doing so. His claim that he is consulting and carrying the industry with him is his fig-leaf in these negotiations. He is not carrying the English industry, which is the one that wants compensation for the loss of the Icelandic waters, and which it was supposed to get from these negotiations but has not.

One of my hon. Friends in an earlier debate likened the Minister's tactics over aid to blackmail. It is blackmail. Aid is being dangled before the industry, but it is not being given anything. The impression is created that the continuity of aid is contingent upon the industry's acceptance of this kind of settlement. Prices may be up slightly for certain species, but the industry is crippled with a burden of debt that will prevent it surviving unless it has the guarantee of continuity of aid that will keep it going to catch the fish, whatever fish it gets.

We started out on these negotiations with the Minister telling us what he was going to achieve and holding out prospects of what he would get in the negotiations. He began as the General Galtieri of the fishing industry, bravely telling us what he would do. He went into battle with those claims and is now coming back, in dribs and drabs, and the result is that he has achieved nothing.

The Minister is finishing up as the Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Astiz—the man who surrendered South Georgia to the British without a shot being fired—of the fishing industry. That is what the Minister is doing in these negotiations—surrendering without effective pressure on our partners in unilateral deals. The British industry is being sold down the river, particularly the English industry, by that technique.

There is, however, this difference between the Minister and Astiz. Astiz did not blackmail his troops into accepting the surrender, nor did he pretend to have brought back peace with honour. Astiz did not take credit for a famous victory and congratulate himself on how clever he had been when he surrendered.

6.35 pm
Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

This is an important debate because it could be the last debate on fishing that we have before settlement is reached by the Minister on a common fisheries policy. Like the previous debate on 9 December 1981, it has been provided out of Supply time—Opposition time.

There is widespread apprehension not only in the House, or on the Opposition side of the House, but in the industry, that the Minister may be about to settle on a wholly unsatisfactory basis. There is a well-founded suspicion that he would have settled at the last meeting of the Ministers if the Danes had not stopped him. The Minister, in a blustering way, gave a historical account that was not only absurd but dishonest. I shall not deny all his points because I have not time to go over the whole of the history that he provided for us. He was not involved in fishery matters at that time.

The Minister made a sneering reference to the words of the motion that deal with quotas. He ought to know that that part of the motion was taken word for word from a similar motion pressed by his hon. Friend the Minister of State as recently as 26 November 1980. The Government have changed their views over the last couple of years, as the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) pointed out. I recommend that the Minister reads his hon. Friend's speech.

As to the Minister's reference to what should have happened at the time of the extension to 200 miles, and the attitude of the Government to the Hague agreement and the 200-mile limit, I reread the Second Reading debate of 3 December 1976, when the Labour Government introduced the Bill extending the limit to 200 miles. The Minister is nodding his head, as if he had read the debate as well. If he did so, then what he said to the House this afternoon was dishonest, because he will have seen that the Minister of State who is to wind up welcomed in unqualified terms what the Labour Government were doing at that time.

I shall not embarrass the Minister of Stateby repeating what he said about 50-mile exclusive limits and the rest, because he repeated these claims on subsequent occasions. The Government have, in the amendment to tonight's motion and in that of last December, ratted on their obligations and undertakings, given both when in Opposition and in the early years of the Government.

The right hon. Gentleman's tactic is to try to put the responsibility for the settlement on the shoulders of an industry that is becoming more and more apprehensive about the deadline of 31 December 1982. What the Minister is doing as regards consultation is no different from what happened under the Labour Government. What is different is his dishonest attempt to put the burden of responsibility for reaching a settlement on the back of the industry. We shall hold him responsible for any settlement that he brings to the House. On present evidence, that settlement will be unsatisfactory.

There has been some progress on some of the less important issues, but there was also progress under the Labour Government on conservation, the North Sea herring ban and the Norway pout box. The right hon. Gentleman gave a wholly dishonest account of the record of the Labour Government in these respects.

This afternoon the Minister tried, in a slippery passage of his speech, to confuse historic rights on the 12-mile limit, as the House has normally understood them, arising from the London convention, with rights granted at the time of the Treaty of Accession. These two matters are different. If we compare what is in the Commission document with what is in the London convention, we find that there has been little improvement on the London convention. As hon. Gentlemen from both sides of the House have pointed out, if we take the London convention and the accession treaty together, the position is considerably worse under the proposals, particularly the position of England.

It is significant that the right hon. Gentleman is apparently not willing to provide maps to the House so that we can judge some of his claims. It is clear that Scotland comes out better than England on these proposals. Therefore, the Opposition and the Scottish fishing industry say that the industry stands united, Scotland and England together. We shall not be bought off with Scotland having a rather more favourable agreement than England. I wish to make that point completely clear, because, just as the Minister is trying to put responsibility on the industry, he is also increasingly trying to play one section of the industry against the other. We have a united industry. We hope that it will remain united, and we shall look after the interests of all fishermen, English and Scottish.

Mr. Peter Walker

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that my relationship with the industry is such that I do not say that I want it to approve an agreement? The right hon. Gentleman said that we were playing off one part of the industry against the other. Is he aware that before and during every negotiation, at every meeting that I have had with the industry the whole of the industry has been together?

Mr. Millan

I hope that the whole industry remains together. If it remains together, the settlement that the right hon. Gentleman is willing to accept will not be reached because the industry believes that it is unsatisfactory.

The 12 to 50-mile limit has been completely abandoned by the Government. We now have a formula to deal with dependent communities. There is a vast difference between local fishing arrangements settled nationally by the United Kingdom within the context of a satisfactory overall common fisheries policy, which is acceptable, and using local fishing arrangements as a substitute for either an acceptable settlement in terms of the 12 to 50-mile zone or a satisfactory overall common fisheries policy. What is available with regard to the Shetland box is not acceptable compared with the necessity to get overall control and satisfactory access within a wider band than the 12 miles. We are not even getting satisfactory access arrangements within the 12-mile limit.

Who will control the fishing within the Shetland box? The number of boats for other countries is unsatisfactory. The Commission's proposed regulations set out the numbers in terms of the numbers of boats that can fish simultaneously at any time, which is unsatisfactory. It gives us no real control. There is no real preference for Scottish or British fishermen. We need licensing arrangements with named vessels attached to them. I hope that the Minister will answer that point.

The quotas are constantly changing. Since the Government first laid the documents before the House there have been revised proposals from the Commission. They mean that the Commission is adding to the total allowable catches to provide artificially inflated figures above the scientists' recommendations so that it can ostensibly allocate higher catch quotas to individual nations. What is important for the United Kingdom is the percentage of the total catch of the main species available to the United Kingdom. The increased total allowable catches of mackerel proposed by the Commission are accompanied by lower percentage catches for the United Kingdom fishing industry. What is worse, the Commission document states that those percentages, once agreed, will form a permanent basis for allocations in future.

The Minister of State will remember, if his right hon. Friend does not, that the Labour Government made proposals not only for much more satisfactory quota figures but for an arrangement whereby the percentages would escalate over the years. At the moment there are unsatisfactory percentage figures. I hope that the Minister of State will give us the figures. There is no guarantee that they will increase, but there is a danger that they will decrease in percentage terms, and certainly in absolute terms in future, if they are based on artificial total allowable catches, which do not adhere to the scientific recommendations and which therefore reintroduce the danger of overfishing.

The industry is worried about many matters, including mackerel. There is also the percentage proposed for herring on the West coast of Scotland, which is lower than allocated last year and considerably lower than the historical performance of the United Kingdom fishing industry. We agree that there should be no total allowable catches at the moment for herring in the northern section of the North Sea, but a satisfactory settlement will have to include the percentage allocations to be available in future when the fishery is ultimately reopened. Without that, the settlement will not be satisfactory.

The Minister said nothing about the plea by the industry for additional aid. I hope that his right hon. Friend the Minister of State will say something about that. Nothing has been said about that, although the Scottish industry made a proposal to the Government at least six months ago. The Minister has said nothing about what is to happen after 31 December. Brave words have been said about not allowing fishing up to the beaches, but, in the absence of a settlement, that is what the legal position will be on 31 December. We want to know what the Government will do about that.

Despite the brave words and the bluster from the right hon. Gentleman, who is a guilty man in these negotiations, after three years and with the deadline only a few months away, the Government have failed on the main issues of access, quotas and a satisfactory common fisheries policy. What is worse, they are trying to dodge their responsibilities and put the responsibility on to the shoulders of the industry. The Government are the guilty men. If they fail to produce a satisfactory settlement, we shall condemn there and vote against them. We shall also vote against them tonight because of the shifty and dishonest way in which the right hon. Gentleman opened the debate.

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

The debate, and not least the speech of the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), has been marked by considerable misconceptions and misunderstandings, not only of the situation that faces the fishing industry, but of what has been negotiated and what is to be negotiated in crucial matters affecting the industry.

Mr. Buchan

Tell us.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I will tell the hon. Gentleman. He does not wait to hear the real arguments, because he does not want to hear them.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. Myles) said, not all is gloom and doom in the fishing industry. One would think that it was, judging by what Opposition Members have said. They almost want the negotiations to fail. That is understandable, considering their attitude towards Europe. As one who has the interests of the fishing industry at heart, what I cannot forgive is that they are prepared to sacrifice the long-term interests of the fishing industry for short-term political expediency.

All is not gloom and doom. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) said that the Government had done nothing for Hull. He knows in his heart that that is not true. He knows that the deep sea industry has received a major part of the operating aids that have been given to the industry in the past two years. He cannot deny that.

Mr. McNamara


Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I shall give way in a moment. The hon. Gentleman should take a little of the medicine instead of becoming indignant. He knows of the schemes and of the special aid that we gave for exploratory voyages. Vessels from Hull benefited from those schemes. The fact that the scheme was given to Hull was criticised by other ports, but we did so because we believed that there was a case for it. Last, but not least, does the hon. Gentleman want my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to take back from Hull the money that is available under the urban aid programme, which Hull has used to assist its fishing industry? If he wants that, let him say so.

Mr. McNamara

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why the number of fishermen has decreased from 9,000 to 1,000, and why the numbr of freezers is down to 10, while the Dutch are building 10 or 12 new ones? Will he also explain why we are receiving only a miserable sum of urban aid when there is so much unemployment and dereliction in the fishing industry?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I shall be delighted to explain that to the House, because I was about to deal with that point.

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) said that the fishing fleet was in decline, and he used other wild phrases. Certain sections of the fleet have declined. For example, the deep sea section has declined, but when did that happen? The majority of that decline occurred before 1976, and it happened not because of the Common Market, but because of the Icelandic extension to 200 miles.

I am prepared to argue reasonably and sensibly about some of these issues. I have a great deal of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said, that we should not go over the past, but should look to the future and consider how we should plan for that future. There cannot be credibility in the criticism of the way that we have handled these issues, when some of the Opposition's arguments have no basis in fact and are a complete misrepresentation of what has taken place.

Mr. Jay


Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I cannot give way to the right hon. Gentleman. I have been given a short time in which to reply, and I have not yet begun to deal with what the right hon. Gentleman said.

The major decline in the deep sea fleet took place before 1976. There were 6,740 vessels in 1976 in total, and 7,351 in 1981. The biggest increase has been in the inshore fleet, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Banff referred.

There are a number of other misconceptions. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North used the example of Norway—"If only we had followed Norway's example; if only Britain were not a member of the European Community." That is another misconception and, indeed, a prejudice. If that is the kind of argument on which the Opposition's case is based, everything else that they say lacks credibility. That is a completely false argument. The Norwegian fishing industry is the most heavily subsidised in Western Europe. The subididies amount to about £150 million and are several factors above what the French industry receives.

Mr. Austin Mitchell


Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I wish that the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) knew more about the fishing industry because if he did I should listen to him. Perhaps the way in which he speaks about the industry on television demonstrate better his knowledge of the industry.

Norway elected to be outside the EEC. Its fishing industry receives far more aid than any other fishing industry in Europe, but it is an industry that has had to carry through the most radical and painful restructuring and a reduction of the capacity of its fleet. Is that the kind of opportunity that being outside the EEC gives?

When we were negotiating in Brussels on the last round only a fortnight ago, where were the Norwegians? They were in the corridors of the Council room, because they knew that they had to be in on those negotiations. They had to be there, because we share stocks with them and they want opportunities in our waters. Because the Norwegians did not join the Community, they could not opt out. We all have to share the waters of Northern Europe. We are all in this together, and the fact that the Norwegians had to send a delegation to Brussels demonstrates that it is not possible to opt out of these negotiations.

Mr. Jay


Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There is another misconception. The right hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) asked why we had not taken into account in the negotiations the Western Isles fishery plan, but only the box off Orkney and Shetland. Almost the whole of the area of that plan falls within the United Kingdom base line, and therefore it is not affected directly by the negotiations. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is able to consider that plan on its merits outside the negotiations. Therefore, that is another red herring and another misconception to which the House has been treated tonight.

The biggest misconception of all is about control. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that control is, unhappily, inadequate at present. One of the reasons why we have over-fishing and why we have not been able to have effective conservation is that we cannot get control. The only way in which we can be sure of achieving control is on an international basis. All that the right hon. Member for the Western Isles has done tonight is to weep crocodile tears over the consequences of a lack of control, when, already, in the negotiations—he did not mention this—we have agreement on control on an international basis. Agreement on a control regulation will come into effect at the end of the year even if we do not achieve a renegotiation of the common fisheries policy.

The right hon. Member for Craigton completely misrepresented the role of his party in the negotiations. He has shown a happy faculty of forgetting what happened in 1976 over The Hague agreement. Reference has been made to the confused way in which the herring fishery was opened a year ago. I share the House's horror that that fishery had to be opened in that way, but that happened because under the 1976 Hague agreement the Labour Government had given away the right of the United Kingdom Government to take their own national conservation measures on a unilateral basis.

Mr. Millan

That is absurd. The Minister has four minutes left in which to speak. When will he come to the main issues of the debate—the limits, access and quotas?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

It is not absurd. It is true. The same is true of the 200-mile limit. I supported the right hon. Gentleman's Government in extending the limit to 200 miles. Having negotiated the rights to have it, the whole thing was then thrown away in The Hague agreement for nothing in return, unlike the way in which Ireland negotiated. Therefore, I need no lectures from the Opposition about how to do these things.

The right hon. Gentleman failed to mention what we have already achieved in the improvements that we have made. We have achieved a considerable improvement in quotas in recent days. We have achieved it with regard to the Irish Sea, to which my hon. Friend the Member for North Fylde (Sir W. Clegg) referred. We have achieved it with regard to whiting and plaice in that area, which is very important to the inshore fishermen in his constituency. We have achieved improvements with regard to haddock in the North Sea.

I can tell the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson), whom I welcome back to the House, that, with regard to deep sea opportunities, we have a new quota for Greenland. It was originally 2,500 tonnes of cod, but it has been increased to 3,500 tonnes—an improvement that will directly benefit our fishermen.

We have made progress on industrial fishing. In the original proposals—the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) was correct to raise the matter—the effects of the Danish by-catch industrial fishing was unacceptable to us. They would have been taking a major part of the total allowable limit. We have achieved a considerable reduction in the amount to be allowed in the total by-catch. That is of interest to Britain and our fishing industry, which will benefit in terms of catches for human consumption.

I know that hon. Members are worried about access. My right hon. Fiend the Secretary of State dealt with some of the problems. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed and my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) are particularly worried about this issue. We are still negotiating on those matters. We need to be very careful, particularly over conservation measures in the breeding grounds where spawning takes place. I discussed this as recently as today with interested fishermen.

No solid or credible views have been put forward by the Labour Party. Opposition Members have completely ignored what we have achieved. We have transferred into Community conservation measures what the previous Government achieved only nationally. We now have the force of the Community, and the measures are much more powerful. Secondly, we have improved marketing, which is also important for the industry's returns. Thirdly, as I said, we have made enormous progress on control. Our job is to get the best deal for the industry—

Mr. Michael Cocks (Bristol, South)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 200, Noes 286.

Division No. 277] [7 pm
Abse, Leo Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)
Adams, Allen Cryer, Bob
Anderson, Donald Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dalyell, Tam
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Davidson, Arthur
Ashton, Joe Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Atkinson, N.(H'gey,) Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Deakins, Eric
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Benn. Rt Hon Tony Dewar, Donald
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) Dixon, Donald
Bidwell, Sydney Dobson, Frank
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Dormand, Jack
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro) Douglas, Dick
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dubs, Alfred
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Duffy, A. E. P.
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Dunlop, John
Buchan, Norman Dunnett, Jack
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Eadie, Alex
Campbell, Ian Eastham, Ken
Campbell-Savours, Dale Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Canavan, Dennis Ellis, R. (NE D"[...]sh're)
Cant, R. B. English, Michael
Carmichael, Neil Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Evans, John (Newton)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Ewing, Harry
Clarke, Thomas C'b'dge,A'rie Faulds, Andrew
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Field, Frank
Cohen, Stanley Flannery, Martin
Coleman, Donald Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Cowans, Harry Ford, Ben
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Forrester, John
Foulkes, George Pavitt, Laurie
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Pendry, Tom
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Golding, John Prescott, John
Graham, Ted Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Race, Reg
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Radice, Giles
Hardy, Peter Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Richardson, Jo
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Haynes, Frank Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Heffer, Eric S. Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Homewood, William Robertson, George
Hooley, Frank Robinson, G, (Coventry NW)
Hoyle, Douglas Rooker, J. W.
Huckfield, Les Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Ryman, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Sever, John
Janner, Hon Greville Sheerman, Barry
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
John, Brynmor Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Johnson, James (Hull West) Short, Mrs Renée
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Silverman, Julius
Kerr, Russell Skinner, Dennis
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Soley, Clive
Lamond, James Spearing, Nigel
Leadbitter, Ted Spriggs, Leslie
Lestor, Miss Joan Stallard, A. W.
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Litherland, Robert Stoddart, David
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Stott, Roger
McCartney, Hugh Strang, Gavin
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Straw, Jack
McElhone, Frank Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Tilley, John
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Tinn, James
McKelvey, William Torney, Tom
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
McNamara, Kevin Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
McTaggart, Robert Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)
McWilliam, John Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Marks, Kenneth Watkins, David
Marshall, (G'gow S'ton) Weetch, Ken
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Welsh, Michael
Martin, M(G'gow S'burn) White, Frank R.
Mason, Rt Hon Roy White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Maynard, Miss Joan Whitehead, Phillip
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Whitlock, William
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Miller, DrM. S. (E Kilbride) Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Molyneaux, James Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Winnick, David
Morton, George Woodall, Alec
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Woolmer, Kenneth
Newens, Stanley Wright, Sheila
O'Neill, Martin Young, David (Bolton E)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Palmer, Arthur Tellers for the Ayes:
Park, George Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe and
Parker, John Mr. Ron Leighton.
Parry, Robert
Adley, Robert Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E)
Aitken, Jonathan Banks, Robert
Alexander, Richard Bendall, Vivian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Benyon, Thomas (A'don)
Ancram, Michael Benyon, W. (Buckingham)
Arnold, Tom Best, Keith
Aspinwall, Jack Bevan, David Gilroy
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne) Biffen, Rt Hon John
Atkins, Robert(Preston N) Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Blackburn, John Greenway, Harry
Blaker, Peter Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)
Body, Richard Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Grist, Ian
Boscawen, Hon Robert Grylls, Michael
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Gummer, John Selwyn
Bowden, Andrew Hamilton, Hon A.
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Braine, Sir Bernard Hampson, Dr Keith
Bright, Graham Hannam, John
Brinton, Tim Haselhurst, Alan
Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Brooke, Hon Peter Hawkins, Sir Paul
Brotherton, Michael Hawksley, Warren
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Hayhoe, Barney
Browne, John (Winchester) Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bruce-Gardyne, John Heddle, John
Bryan, Sir Paul Henderson, Barry
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Hicks, Robert
Buck, Antony Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Budgen, Nick Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Bulmer, Esmond Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Burden, Sir Frederick Hooson, Tom
Butler, Hon Adam Hordern, Peter
Cadbury, Jocelyn Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Chapman, Sydney Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Churchill, W. S. Irvine, Bryant Godman
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Jessel, Toby
Clegg, Sir Walter Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Cockeram, Eric Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Colvin, Michael Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Cope, John Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Cormack, Patrick Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Corrie, John Kimball, Sir Marcus
Costain, Sir Albert King, Rt Hon Tom
Cranborne, Viscount Knight, Mrs Jill
Critchiey, Julian Knox, David
Crouch, David Lamont, Norman
Dickens, Geoffrey Lang, Ian
Dorrell, Stephen Latham, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Lawrence, Ivan
Dover, Denshore Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lee, John
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Durant, Tony Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Eggar, Tim Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Elliott, Sir William Loveridge, John
Eyre, Reginald Luce, Richard
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lyell, Nicholas
Fairgrieve, Sir Russell MacKay, John (Argyll)
Faith, Mrs Sheila Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Farr, John McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Fell, Sir Anthony McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Finsberg, Geoffrey Madel, David
Fisher, Sir Nigel Major, John
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Marland, Paul
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Marten, Rt Hon Neil
Fookes, Miss Janet Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Forman, Nigel Mawby, Ray
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Fox, Marcus Mayhew, Patrick
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh Mellor, David
Fry, Peter Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Glyn, Dr Alan Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Moate, Roger
Goodhew, Sir Victor Monro, Sir Hector
Goodlad, Alastair Montgomery, Fergus
Gorst, John Moore, John
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Gray, Hamish Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Murphy, Christopher Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Myles, David Speed, Keith
Neale, Gerrard Speller, Tony
Needham, Richard Spence, John
Nelson, Anthony Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Neubert, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Normanton, Tom Sproat, Iain
Nott, Rt Hon John Squire, Robin
Onslow, Cranley Stainton, Keith
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Stanbrook, Ivor
Osborn, John Stanley, John
Page, John (Harrow, West) Steen, Anthony
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Stewart, A.(E Pentrewshire)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Parris, Matthew Stokes, John
Patten, John (Oxford) Stradling Thomas, J.
Pattie, Geoffrey Tapsell, Peter
Pawsey, James Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Percival, Sir Ian Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Pink, R. Bonner Temple-Morris, Peter
Pollock, Alexander Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Porter, Barry Thompson, Donald
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Thornton, Malcolm
Prior, Rt Hon James Townend, John (Bridlington)
Proctor, K. Harvey Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Trippier, David
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Trotter, Neville
Rathbone, Tim van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Rees-Davies, W. R. Viggers, Peter
Renton, Tim Wakeham, John
Rhodes James, Robert Waldegrave, Hon William
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Walker, B. (Perth)
Rifkind, Malcolm Waller, Gary
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Walters, Dennis
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Warren, Kenneth
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Watson, John
Rossi, Hugh Wells, Bowen
Rost, Peter Wells, John (Maidstone)
Royle, Sir Anthony Wheeler, John
Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R. Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Whitney, Raymond
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Wiggin, Jerry
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Wilkinson, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Shelton, William (Streatham) Winterton, Nicholas
Shepherd, Cohn (Hereford) Wolfson, Mark
Shepherd, Richard Young, Sir George (Acton)
Shersby, Michael Younger, Rt Hon George
Silvester, Fred
Sims, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Skeet, T. H. H. Mr. Anthony Berry and
Smith, Dudley Mr. Carol Mather.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes the further progress achieved by Her Majesty's Government in the search for a satisfactory revised common fisheries policy, particularly in relation to conservation, marketing and control; confirms that such a policy must maintain the need to secure an exclusive 12-mile limit, preference outside 12 miles to protect particularly dependent fishing communities, adequate quotas for the United Kingdom, effective conservation measures and a community-wide system of enforcement as well as improvements in the marketing arrangements hitherto in force; and urges Her Majesty's Government vigorously to continue, in consultation with the fishing industry, the search for a solution on the outstanding issues.

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