§ 1. Mr. David Porter
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he next expects to meet his counterpart from the Dutch Government to talk about the fishing industry.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. David Curry)
I shall meet the Dutch Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on 2 July before the next Council of Fisheries Ministers on 8 July.
§ Mr. Porter
When my hon. Friend meets his Dutch counterpart, will he bear in mind that undersized fish are still being caught, landed, sold, and served on dinner plates in homes and restaurants throughout Holland? That 446 galling practice is particularly offensive to the law-abiding fishermen of Lowestoft, who feel that turning a blind eye, as the Dutch Government seem to be doing, is a particularly English practice and is therefore liable to encourage English fishermen to do the same?
§ Mr. Curry
I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that the Dutch have made significant efforts to tighten up inspection procedures and now have 100 inspectors—and some auxiliaries—for 550 boats. The previous Minister was changed because of the issue. We have good relations with the Dutch. If my hon. Friend has proof that we can put before the Dutch Minister, we shall not hesitate to do so.
§ Mr. Austin Mitchell
When the Minister meets the Dutch Minister, will he arrange it so that he and his Dutch counterpart bring pressure on their respective Foreign Offices to ensure both that the EC negotiations with the European Free Trade Association include no concessions to Spain in Norwegian waters which might endanger British or Dutch captures there, and that the negotiations are successful?
§ Mr. Curry
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees that it is important to come to an arrangement with the EFTA countries, but it must not be at the expense of British fishermen. We are certainly conscious of the dangers of allowing Spanish vessels into Norwegian waters, particularly because of the impact that that might have on relative stability. We have, of course, made sure that the British Government are aware of the fishing industry's strong interests in such matters.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Does the Minister accept that the Dutch fishing fleet seems to have avoided the worst effects—indeed, any effects—of the introduction of the eight-day tie-up scheme? Will he bear that in mind when he meets his Dutch counterpart and find ways of ensuring that the United Kingdom fleet—particularly the Scottish inshore fleet—can avoid the worst effects of the eight-day tie-up scheme?
§ Mr. Curry
Clearly, we should like to have a mechanism to control fishing efforts that does not involve a tie-up. However, the Dutch fleet is subject to a unilateral tie-up at the instruction of the Dutch Government. The Dutch Minister proposes tie-ups as part of a more universal package of fisheries control. We must be cautious of such a scheme, given the difficulties that it poses for the fleet.