HC Deb 26 January 1983 vol 35 cc899-909 3.31 pm
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Peter Walker)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement on the Council of Fisheries Ministers yesterday in Brussels, at which I represented the United Kingdom together with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of State.

I am pleased to inform the House that a full and unqualified agreement was reached on a common fisheries policy precisely in the terms reported to this House as agreed between nine of the 10 member states in December. The agreement reached yesterday had the full approval of the three main fishing organisations.

The agreement will last for 20 years and therefore will provide a very firm long-term basis for our fishing industry to take advantage of the substantial benefits it receives from it.

The quotas we have obtained are above our actual catches in the years 1973 to 1978, which is the period that was used as a basis for calculating quotas. The quotas agreed for the seven main species of edible fish, which are the species of dominant importance to the United Kingdom fishing industry, provide Britain with 37.3 per cent. of the stocks in European waters, a figure higher than our actual catch for most stocks even in exceptional years.

The quotas that have been achieved are in stark contrast to the offer of 31 per cent. incorporated in the first proposal with which I was confronted when the United Kingdom was in a minority of one.

Perhaps the most important aspect of agreeing such good quotas and the technical measures on conservation is that they are coupled with an agreement on an effective enforcement system. Consequently, we now have the prospect that fishing stocks over the coming decades are likely to increase rather than deteriorate, therefore giving our industry the potentiality of growth instead of decline. Each member state will enforce these measures in its own waters but subject to Commission supervision to ensure that such enforcement really is effective.

The Council clarified the position on western mackerel by an agreed statement that rights to fish will be accorded only to those who have established a traditional fishery. There was a specific renunciation of any claim to western mackerel on the part of Denmark. It was also made clear that the 2,000 tonnes of North Sea cod, which were made available to Denmark from Norway and were outside the quota arrangements, was a commitment limited to three years.

On access, the agreement provides British fishermen with a better dominance of our coastal waters than anything that they have enjoyed in the history of the British fishing industry. Previously existing historic rights in our six-to-12 mile limit, some under the terms of the London Convention and others in the Treaty of Accession, have been reduced or altogether extinguished along nearly three quarters of the coastline where these rights previously existed. We have also obtained valuable rights in the six-to-12 mile limits in French, Dutch, German and Irish waters.

Contained within the package are important proposals on structures, where, over a three-year period, Community grants will be available up to a total of £140 million. The bulk of these funds are allocated to measures which are of particular interest to the British industry.

Agreement was also reached on the Community's 1983 reciprocal fishing agreements with Norway, Sweden and the Faroes as well as on fishing in the Skagerrak and Kattegat. These arrangements are all satisfactory and agreement has the important benefit that our vessels can, from today, re-start fishing in Norwegian waters.

I am pleased that, after four years of difficult negotiations, we have obtained this agreement. I would like to record my gratitude to the leaders of the fishing industry who have attended every meeting with me and who have discussed and agreed what we have negotiated. They have welcomed the agreement because they share with the Government the view that this provides the basis upon which the fishing industry can obtain a secure future to the benefit of fishermen and to the benefit of Britain.

Hon. Members

Well done. [Laughter.]

Mr. Walker

There is no doubt that fishing is an area in which it is vital to have a common agreement throughout European waters if growth, as opposed to decline, is to be the future of fishing. I believe the agreements reached yesterday are good for Europe and good for Britain.

Hon. Members

"Hear, hear".

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

Conservative Members are easily pleased. In the last 24 hours we have been told what a superb agreement has been achieved. A new definition has been found for the term "superb". When one reaches a bad deal, one throws a cocktail party, shouts "Rejoice" and claims that it is superb. The truth, reflected by the fishermen's organisations, as I think the Minister will agree, is very different.

Does the Minister agree with the response of Willie Hay, of the Scottish fishermen's organisation, who said that if there had been a superb agreement it would have meant a 200-mile limit and as much fish as we can catch but that, in the context of the disaster that could have befallen us, the agreement is not too bad? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is very far, is it not, from being a superb agreement?

Is it not the case that the Minister warned at the time the deal was basically agreed last September that, if it was not accepted, he would not guarantee proper policing to protect our waters? Have not fishermen in the past given their view on the deal? Has the Minister seen the poll carried out by Fishing News among the fishermen of Britain showing that 98 per cent. of the fishermen believe that the deal does not provide proper controls?

Mr. Robert Atkins (Preston, North)

How do they know? It only came out yesterday.

Mr. Buchan

Yes, but is it not the case that the deal on which they polled was rather better than yesterday's deal and that 98 per cent. rejected it? Was it not shown that 96 per cent. felt that the Prime Minister had failed to keep her promises to provide a further considerable area of preferential access"? The right hon. Gentleman states that no concessions have been made in the agreement. In that case, what have the Danes got out of the agreement that now enables them to agree to it? I wish to refer to the apparent concessions that have been made on the 20,000 tonnes of mackerel and the 2,000 tonnes of cod. Where is this cod coming from?

An Hon. Member

From the sea. [Laughter.]

Mr. Buchan

It is coming from Norwegian waters. The 7,000 fishermen who have lost jobs on Humberside over the last 10 years will not be laughing. The 2,000 tonnes of cod will be part of the cod quotas that will be reduced from the British section. Our proportion of that quota must be reduced.

Is the Minister aware that the worries of the fishermen require that at the end of the three years there must be a firm commitment that there will be no repetition of that allocation of cod? Will he also give a firm commitment that from now onwards there will be no Danish fishing off the west coast? I must remind the right hon. Gentleman, if he is not already aware of it, that Mr. Henning Grove, the Danish Fisheries Minister, said yesterday: We are guaranteed 20,000 tonnes of mackerel for an indefinite period. If we cannot get this from third countries we will have to get this from somewhere else. Is the Minister aware that "somewhere else" means British and Scottish waters? Will he give a firm commitment that that will not happen?

On restructuring, I take it that the £50 million agreed for the British industry is in addition to the allowance. Is the amount for British restructuring related to the amount of fish in British waters or to the quota that has been allocated? How on earth can we regard this as a good deal when we have two thirds of the fish in our waters and we have received only one third back? How can we regard the £140 million of restructuring as a particularly good deal if it is not based on an allocation of that type? Is it not, in the words of the Prime Minister, just a little—indeed, it is not even a little—of our own money back?

Finally, why did the right hon. Gentleman, of all people, end by saying: I believe the agreements reached yesterday are good for Europe and good for Britain"? As the fisheries Minister for Britain, I should have thought that he would put the priorities for Britain rather higher than the requirements of Europe as a whole. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sour grapes."] It is a bad deal, and next week we shall demonstrate in detail just how bad it is.

Mr. Walker

As someone who realises that in the coming 12 months there may be a general election, I shall be delighted if the Labour party votes against the agreement next week. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman's attitude is one of complete sour grapes on a deal which the fishing industry recognises gives it better quotas than its historic catch, better access arrangements than it has ever enjoyed, important structure arrangements, and important enforcement arrangements.

I express my gratitude again to the hon. Gentleman for mentioning the poll in Fishing News. I am delighted that he raised the matter. He said that 98 per cent. of the fishermen, the 70,000 readers of Fishing News, voted against this agreement and said that it was not in keeping with what the Prime Minister had promised. Fishing News conducted a poll, surrounded by immensely hostile arguments against the Government, with questions rigged to bring the most negative and nasty replies that it could. It announced with a great flourish that it, with a readership of 70,000, had found that 98 per cent. of fishermen were against it.

I have to inform the House, from the very careful inquiries that I have made, that of the 70,000 readers of Fishing News, 69,880 did not vote. I am willing to accept that the "passionate hostility" of the 70,000 was expressed in the view of the 69,880 who, in spite of all the attempts by the Fishing News to generate hostility, decided sensibly that this agreement was a very good deal.

On the 2,000 tonnes of cod, I assure the hon. Gentleman that at the end of three years if any proposal is made for a continuation of those 2,000 tonnes of cod it will be open to whoever is the fisheries Minister responsible for this country to agree or disagree with such an allocation. Therefore, total power will be in the hands of future British Ministers as to whether that continues.

On west coast mackerel, I can only repeat what I said in my statement, that there is a clear declaration that only those with traditional fishing rights to the west coast mackerel will have them. There is a declaration by the Danish Government that they give up all rights to them. The only way in the next 20 years that any west coast mackerel could be caught by Danish fishermen would be if a British fisheries Minister decided that he would like to give Danish fishermen west coast mackerel. Apart from the hon. Gentleman, I cannot think of anyone who is likely to do that.

On the overall situation, this is an agreement. When the hon. Gentleman asks why I ended my statement by mentioning Europe and then Britain, I reply by saying that there is no better way of ending a statement than with the country that is to receive the most benefit from it.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members who are called will be brief and to the point, because I have a long list of right hon and hon. Members who hope to catch my eye in the main debate of the day.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman publish the details, in whatever may be the most convenient form, of the new rights in the six-to-12 mile limit that have been secured in Irish waters?

Mr. Walker

Certainly. All the details and papers will be published and made available to the House of all the historic rights in the six-to-12 mile limit. On Northern Ireland, the rights that we have always enjoyed around the waters of the Irish Republic will continue; there is no problem there. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, that is of immense importance to Ulster fishermen.

Sir Walter Clegg (North Fylde)

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister and his right hon. Friend the Minister of State on achieving this settlement, which will give a great deal of stability to the industry? Can he say what is the time scale of help from Europe for the reconstruction?

Mr. Walker

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his remarks. The time scale is three years.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

Is the Minister aware that I welcome his optimism about stocks in the North sea, but if there is over-fishing, will he confirm that presumably there are ways of amending the quotas and other arrangements? Secondly, is he aware that there is some dissatisfaction about the allocation of the grants so far? Will he undertake that smaller boats are safeguarded when the new grants from the EC come forward?

Mr. Walker

On the last point, I think that the right hon. Gentleman is referring to the grants of national aids, on which there has been discussion. We discussed these matters with the industry, and we conducted the discussions as fairly as possible. It is not a European conception.

On the important subject of stocks, of course each year the TACs will be published, based on scientific evidence. Therefore, if there is a deterioration of the stock the quotas will decline in accordance with that. The important aspect, particularly for fishermen in the right hon. Gentleman's constituency, is that that area now has an arrangement of monitoring and licensing greater than anywhere in Europe, and I believe that it will ensure for fishermen in his constituency that future stocks will be secure.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

Is it not an odd situation when the Minister describes as a satisfactory agreement better access for United Kingdom vessels into United Kingdom waters? How many United Kingdom fishermen does he think will fish in the continental areas that those countries have cleaned up themselves? Does he not think that it is a total sell-out when in my constituency the limits are down to six miles, whereas in a fisheries debate on 15 June 1978 many of his hon. Friends said that anything less than a 50-mile exclusive limit would be an abandonment of British interests?

Mr. Walker

In answer to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about which fishermen are interested in the six-to-12 mile limit, I can well understand that he, particularly as a Scottish nationalist, has no particular interest in the fishermen of England, Wales or other parts of the United Kingdom. However, I suggest that if he talks, for example, to fishermen in Lowestoft, he will find that their interest in fishing in the six-to-12 mile limit off the German coast is of considerable importance. If he goes to Northern Ireland, he will find that interest there in fishing in the six-to-12 mile limit around the whole of the Irish Republic is of immense importance. So for the British fishing industry the positions that we have obtained for all time in the six-to-12 mile limits around other countries are of considerable importance.

On Scotland, one reason why the Scottish fishing leaders agreed to the agreement is that they know that this is a good agreement for access and dominance in Scottish waters.

Sir Michael Shaw (Scarborough)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the whole fishing industry owes a great debt to my right hon. Friend, and not only to him but to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, who has worked with him so hard, and the whole team? This is a historic day. Will he confirm that the fishermen and the port authorities should now set about taking the greatest advantage of the long-term opportunities that have been presented by this argument?

Mr. Walker

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I am particularly grateful to him for mentioning my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. No one has worked harder and with greater skill than he. Altogether, in the past four years, apart from the many meetings of the Council of Fisheries Ministers, he and I have attended 47 bilateral meetings with other European Ministers, and a great part of anything that we have achieved is due to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State.

On what can now be done in terms of port facilities elsewhere, I believe that with stability assured for the next two decades there is much that can be done, partly on port arrangements, and, if I may say so, a great deal in the marketing of fish. I still believe that there is much to be done in that connection that can now be done, based on these firm quotas.

Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)

What the Minister has said today sounds almost too good to be true. Nevertheless, it would be petty of me not to compliment him on his hard work, particularly as his labours are supported by the three main fishermen's associations. How will the £140 million of Community funds be shared out between the distant water, middle water and inshore fleets? He must know better than I that Hull has, or had 10 years ago, the biggest deep-sea fishing fleet in Western Europe west of Murmansk. What is he doing to get money to the hard-hit and almost insolvent fishing port of Hull?

Mr. Walker

First, I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. Secondly, most of the money takes the form of percentage grants for various national measures. There are percentage grants for scrapping, restructuring, the modernisation of vessels and so on. Many of those apply to the fishing industry in Hull. I can only say that in the near future we shall have talks with the fishing industry. The British Trawler Federation, which is particularly important for Hull, has asked for talks with the Government in the near future on how to apply for those grants and put them into operation. We shall have to take into consideration the real difficulties that the long-distance fleet has had over the years as a result of the loss of Icelandic waters.

Sir Peter Mills (Devon, West)

I congratulate my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Minister of State and give them 10 out of 10. Will the Minister confirm that the agreement will mean more and better quality fish for our fishermen to fish for, which will benefit not only fishermen but the consumer? Will he also bear in mind the fact that it is important to proceed with aid for modernising the fleet so that there can be more economical fishing in the future, again to the benefit of the consumer?

Mr. Walker

These are, in my judgment, good quotas, above what has been caught in recent years. Quality will depend partly on the quality control imposed by the industry. However, to repeat what I said in my statement, one of the most fundamental points is that we at last have an agreement which can be enforced on all member countries. The real blow to the fishing industry, for example with herring, has been the disappearance or decline of stocks and it is important that in the coming decades stocks can be enhanced. I shall discuss with the leaders of the fishing industry how the British fleet can be adapted and advantage taken of the opportunities.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

Does the Minister agree that whether the new policy provides for a prosperous future for the fishing industry will depend both upon effective policing in other Community waters and upon a more effective marketing arrangement than has prevailed during the last 10 years when incomes have been constantly threatened by imports from third countries enjoying concessionary arrangements? Will the Minister have urgent talks with the industry about that?

Mr. Walker

Marketing is of considerable importance. Obviously, changes have taken place over the past 12 months and exchange rates—which have had a heavy impact on the industry—will be of considerable importance. It was as a result of a regulation drafted by the Government that the Commission, for the first time in history, established an inspectorate with the right to board boats, look at documents and be on the quaysides to ensure that every country in Europe complied.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

What country other than Denmark has been given a guaranteed quota for any species for which special arrangements will be made if the quota is not available? How much money will now go to the fishermen who will inevitably lose their jobs as a result of declining opportunities?

Mr. Walker

I am glad to say that during the past year under this Government the number of people employed in the fishing industry has increased and not declined. Therefore, that has not been a major problem, as it was, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, under the Labour Government when the major decline in the long-distance fleet took place. If the hon. Gentleman is well informed on these subjects, he will also know that the Labour Government considered the possibility of a redundancy payments scheme for fishermen in particular and decided against one.

There are no guaranteed quotas in this agreement for Denmark. The agreement for cod is for three years only and for mackerel there is a pledge that there will be an endeavour to obtain up to 20,000 tonnes of mackerel from the North Sea. There is no guarantee that that pledge can be fulfilled.

Mr. Robert Hughes


Mr. Walker

No—no guarantee at all. Whoever has given the hon. Gentleman that information has misinformed him.

Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)

May I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State, the Minister of State and the Prime Minister, on the resolute stance that they have taken in negotiating this common fisheries policy, which is acceptable to British fishermen? Will the structure package be run by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Scotland or by the Sea Fish Industry Authority? If it is the latter, will he take steps to ensure that every application is treated with the utmost urgency?

Mr. Walker

Responsibility for the structure package will be with the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself. Responsibility for the detailed arrangements of grants will also partly rest with the Commission. In operating such schemes we shall see that they are conducted as speedily and efficiently as possible.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his statement will provide no solace whatever for the people employed in the long-distance fleet? He has given no details of what catches ports such as Hull, Grimsby or Aberdeen can expect so that they can maintain their fleets and people in employment. Is he also aware that there will be considerable regret that he has not been able to state on this occasion what special measures will be taken to compensate fishermen from those ports whose present jobs are unlikely to be maintained, or to provide retraining?

Mr. Walker

I repeat that an agreement which gives Britain higher quotas than have been enjoyed for many years, and the likelihood that stocks will increase instead of decline, is unlikely to be a cause of unemployment but, rather, increases employment prospects.

As to the suggestion that there is no specific commitment to quotas or allocations to any particular port, I can only say that it is unlikely that if in the future there were to be a Labour Government they would decide on port-by-port quotas or allocations.

Mr. McNamara

They will.

Mr. Walker

I am interested to hear the hon. Gentleman say that they will. I am sure that that will be of immense interest to many fishermen in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Alex Pollock (Morray and Nairn)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the settlement will be warmly welcomed by the fishing communities of the Moray firth? Does he also agree that it underlines the commitment, from the Prime Minster downwards, to a prosperous future for the inshore fleet and that the Government have kept faith with the fishing industry? Finally, does he agree that this package scotches the scare stories peddled so frequently by the Scottish National Party about foreign boats coming to fish up to our beaches in a free-for-all?

Mr. Walker

A number of politicians in various political parties predicted categorically that as from 1 January fishermen from all European countries would fish up to the beaches of the United Kingdom. As is known, only one gentleman attempted to do so, and he was fined £30,000 for the attempt. Under the agreement that we reached yesterday, nobody else is likely to do so.

Mr. John Home Robertson (Berwick and East Lothian)

Is the Minister aware that the 10 largest fishing vessels based in my constituency have been excluded from their traditional fishing grounds in the Norwegian sector since this dispute started and that their owners were greatly relieved when the dispute ended? Can he confirm that the extra allocation for Denmark will not be taken from waters of third countries, such as Norway, at the expense of Scottish fishermen?

Mr. Walker

One talks about extra allocations for Denmark, but the allocation of 2,000 tonnes of cod, with which the total cod stocks that British fishermen will enjoy compare favourably was brought from Norway in an area that is important to Norway for only a three-year period. The regulations for that allocation will exist for only three years, and were not made at the talks that have just taken place but were agreed with our fishing industry at the talks in December.

Mr. John Townend (Bridlington)

May I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friends? There will be considerable relief in Bridlington that at last we have an agreement that our fishermen accept is the best on offer. Is there a possibility of European Community aid to the trawler skippers who are part-owners who have been put in a difficult position in the past week because the other part-owners—a large Hull trawling firm—have gone into receivership?

Mr. Walker

If my hon. Friend brings to my attention the details about the part-owners, I shall consider them. The stocks, quotas and access proposals are better than the Hull and north-east coast fishermen have enjoyed for many years.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. If those hon. Members who have already risen are genuinely brief, I can call them all, because all except one have a constituency interest.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)

I suppose that I am the exception, as I come from Glasgow. I know that modesty is not one of the Minister's outstanding characteristics, but many of us recognise that, although the settlement is not very good, it is fair and reasonable in the light of all the circumstances. It ends the uncertainty. Does the Minister see a role for the fishermen's organisations in Britain and in other countries in the enforcement policies that could lead to better management and conservation policies?

Mr. Walker

Yes, Sir. In recent years our fishermen and those of other countries have come to realise that nothing is more important to their future than conservation. They can destroy their future by over-fishing at any time. That is why I am pleased that the leaders of the three main fishing organisations were more personally elated about at last having enforcement proposals than about almost any other issue. They were right to be so elated, because it is a fundamental facet of the future of the British fishing industry. In future, in both these and other measures, there will be close co-ordination with the fishing leaders.

Mr. David Myles (Banff)

May I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend on this agreement? I also voice my thanks and the thanks of the fishermen in Banffshire for the immense amount of work that he, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State, Scottish Office have done in this and previous Parliaments to obtain such an agreement. Will he continue close consultations with the industry and urge the industry to stick together?

Mr. Walker

Yes, Sir. The link between my Ministry, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the industry is immensely important. Now that we have a secure future right into the next century, the Government and the industry must work together to ensure that full advantage is taken of that opportunity.

Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)

Now that a settlement has been reached on catches, will the Minister direct his attention to the processing side of the industry? Does he accept that hundreds of jobs could be created if he banned klondyking and provided effective financial support to the processing industry? Will he ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to reconsider his refusal to provide sufficient aid for the new fish processing development on the Western Isles?

Mr. Walker

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will take note of the hon. Gentleman's comment. As the hon. Gentleman knows, much of the raw material for the fish processing industry is imported as opposed to being United Kingdom catch. There is nothing wrong with that. However, it is important that, as in agriculture, the processors and manufacturers have a close working relationship with the primary producers. I shall do all that I can to ensure a closer working relationship than has existed in the past.

Mr. Robert Hicks (Bodmin)

Despite all that has been said, does my right hon. Friend recognise that inshore fishermen are still worried, because of experience, about the effectiveness of the enforcement regulations and policing that he mentioned, especially in the areas where historic rights will still apply? Can he assure the House that if any of those nations over-fish or infringe the conditions, immediate measures will be instigated by both the Commission and the Government to ensure that they are prevented from doing so in future? Devon and Cornwall are especially vulnerable in this respect.

Mr. Walker

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has taken such a close interest in the problems of fishermen in the south-west during the past four years. We shall take full advantage of our powers of enforcement in our territorial waters, to police and to monitor them, and we shall have the full approval and legal backing of the Commission. My hon. Friend will not have much to complain about in the way that we ensure that quotas and conservation measures are applied to all Member states.

Mr. Robert Banks (Harrogate)

Is it not the case that these negotiations have been both long and difficult over very many years? While my right hon. Friend deserves great praise for reaching an agreement, is it not surprising that there is no recognition of the difficulties with which he has had to contend from the Opposition Front Bench?

Mr. Walker

I have no responsibility for the Opposition Front Bench. One problem with such negotiations was that we started in 1979 with eight countries that had an agreed policy against the interests of the United Kingdom, and with unsatisfactory quotas and no proposals on access. I am very pleased that we have obtained the understanding of other European countries and come out with such an agreement.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

In noting that the entire Labour party is furious that my right hon. Friend has concluded such a deal, except the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Johnson) and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown), is my right hon. Friend aware that the money accruing under this agreement is twice what was estimated to be possible two years ago? In the wider context, however, does it not show once again what can be achieved by genuine co-operation and agreement in the Community?

Mr. Walker

I must praise my European colleagues who, having started with an agreed solution among eight of them against the major fishing country, during the years conceded the importance of better quotas and better access provision for the United Kingdom. Patient talking and the supply of information about the problems that were created by the original proposals has had that result. From a European point of view, the breeding grounds of many of the fish in our waters are in the territorial waters of other European countries. Unless one has conservation policies for all European waters, it will be against the interests of all fishing industries.

Mr. Mark Hughes (Durham)

I thank the Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of State for the closeness with which they have kept in touch with the fishing industry during the negotiations of the past four years. It does him great credit. It is none the less not an especially good bargain in the end. Will he clear up what I trust was a slip of the tongue when he said that the 20,000 tonnes of mackerel were to be found in the North sea? If so, were they in the Norwegian or the Community sectors of the North sea?

Will the right hon. Gentleman also clear up precisely from where those 2,000 tonnes of North sea cod come? Are they paper fish or real fish? If they are real fish, at whose expense have they been allocated? Will he make it clear that his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be forthcoming with the necessary United Kingdom money to trigger our share of the £140 million for restructuring? Will he ensure that we do not lose because of additionality requirements and that our fishing industry can take such benefits as remain from this deal?

Mr. Walker

On the latter point, obviously I have no right to speak for what Chancellors of the Exchequer will do in future. I can only say that in the three and a half years I have held this responsibility my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed to levels of aid to the fishing industry massively in excess of what the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed to. Therefore, I have no doubt at all that the attitude of this Government towards the fishing industry will remain the same.

Mackerel in the North sea is a joint Norwegian stock which operates in the whole of the North sea. The amount currently available is 20,000 tonnes. There is no certainty that it will always be available. If it is not available, the Commission has undertaken to consider what measures could help Denmark in such circumstances. They might be financial compensation measures; there is a whole range of measures. Whatever measures were decided on, it would be up to the British Minister at the time to decide whether or not they were acceptable to the United Kingdom.

The 2,000 tonnes of cod was part of the balance of stocks between Norway and the Community. To assist Denmark in coming to an agreement, the Commission asked Norway if it would for a three-year period make 2,000 tonnes of cod available, and it agreed to do so.