HC Deb 26 October 1993 vol 230 cc689-90
Q4. Mr. Steen

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Brixham, south Devon, to discuss the future of the fishing and shellfish industry.

The Prime Minister

I have no immediate plans to do so. However, my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has made widespread visits to ports, including Brixham, to consult fishermen.

Mr. Steen

The people of Brixham are well aware of the Government's commitment to the west country, what with assisted area status for Torbay and an application to the European fund for 5b status for Brixham. But when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister comes to Brixham, will he meet fishermen and assure them that he will not be pushed around by the Portuguese or Spanish, who want to seize our fishing stock and want more fish from our sovereign waters? Will he tell fishermen that he will not introduce a conservation measure until other European countries have similar conservation measures and until their policing of them is as good as ours? Finally, will he take a cup of tea at the Melville hotel so that he hear from Brixham's hoteliers that if he reduced rules and regulations on the hotel industry it would do more for tourism than anything else?

The Prime Minister

I will look forward not only to a cup of tea but, I suspect, something stronger by the time we have dealt with that agenda. I recognise the industry's concern about access for Spanish and Portuguese vessels. The Commission's proposals for rules from 1996 have now been announced, and we have made it clear that they must not lead to an increase in fishing effort. I attach great importance to strict observance of Community rules, including quotas. We therefore welcome the control regulations, which will help to ensure consistent enforcement. One of the areas of the Maastricht treaty perhaps not generally recognised by everyone is that it now gives greater power to ensure that everyone across the Community obeys Community regulations and can face substantial fines if they do not do so. [Interruption.] Hon. Members below the Gangway may scoff. They simply prove, as I have always suspected, that they have never read or understood the Maastricht treaty.

Madam Speaker

I now call Mr. Jim Marshall: it is a closed question.

Mr. Jim Marshall

Does the Prime Minister recall the speech that the right hon. Member for City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke) made on 9 November 1990, in which he said that the British Government have no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland—

Madam Speaker

Order. I indicated to the hon. Gentleman that it is a closed question. It deals with Brixham, south Devon and the fishing industry. We must move on to Mr. David Sumberg.

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