HC Deb 10 June 1993 vol 226 cc426-7
8. Mr. Robathan

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many whales were killed for scientific purposes in 1992.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

A total of 425 minke whales were taken during the 1992–93 season, 330 by Japan and 95 by Norway under their scientific programmes.

Mr. Robathan

Like others, I welcome my right hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box. Will she reassure the House, many of my constituents and others throughout the country that she will continue the admirable and firm policy of her predecessor against the resumption of whaling? Furthermore, will she keep up pressure against countries such as Norway, that wish to resume commercial whaling on a large scale?

Mrs. Shephard

It remains our policy that we should not begin to consider lifting the moratorium unless stocks are proved to be at a healthy level, until whaling methods are humane and until effective procedures for managing stocks, including thorough enforcement procedures, are in place. I shall be in early contact with Mrs. Brundtland.

Mr. Tony Banks

I point out to the new Minister that in no circumstances is there such a thing as the humane killing of a whale, and the Government must push that hard at the International Whaling Commission. Will the right hon. Lady also make it clear to the Norwegian Government that if they persist in flouting the IWC's view and world opinion by hunting whales, Norway will not be allowed to join the EC, it will stand outside the ranks of civilised nations and we shall take action against its imports into this country? Nothing less than that is required now so that the Norwegian barbarians understand how strongly we feel.

Mrs. Shephard

It is, of course, the case that Norwegian whaling would not be compatible with existing EC regulations on whaling and I will certainly lose no opportunity to make that clear.

Sir Roger Moate

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that enlargement of the Community through Norwegian membership remains an overriding principle and objective of the British Government and that there is no reason why the disagreement over whaling should be an impediment to membership any more than bull-fighting in Spain should prevent the Spaniards from being members of the EC?

Mrs. Shephard

My hon. Friend is right to make the point, but when new members join clubs, they of course have an eye to the existing rules.