HL Deb 26 July 1965 vol 268 cc1004-5

3.4 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Herring Subsidy (United Kingdom) Scheme 1965 be approved. Following relatively good results in 1963, the herring catchers had another generally successful year in 1964. Though total landings in the United Kingdom by British vessels showed a small drop in quantity compared with 1963, the value was virtually unchanged at £2.7 million. When we look behind these total landing figures and examine the situation of the fishermen who are engaged in the fisheries, it is encouraging to find that average profits have generally increased over the year. The herring fisheries are, in the main, carried out by Scottish vessels which fished entirely for herring, the average profits of the ring-net vessels and the 65 to 80 feet drifters showed an increase in 1964, while the profits of the smaller group of 60 to 65 feet drifters were the same as in 1963, which was a good year for them.

I am glad to say that for 1964, the ratio of profit to the improved value of the vessel—and this has been quoted to us by the fishermen's associations as the best index of profitability—was, for most classes of vessels fishing principally for herring, at a level which the associations themselves regard as satisfactory. As your Lordships will know, there is now a greater degree of flexibility in the inshore fishing industry so that many vessels can go out to fish either for herrings or for white fish or shell fish, according to which fishery the skipper deems most profitable in their overall results, the majority of the dual-purpose vessels—those which fished for herring for only part of the year—showed on average increased profits during 1964. It is interesting to note also that, in general, herring fishing proved more profitable to the dual-purpose boats than fishing for white fish.

The general picture, then, of the herring industry is that the profits of 1963 were improved upon last year. We are satisfied that, as in the case of the inshore white fish industry, a step should be taken towards the objective of a viable industry, in comformity with the policy outlined in the White Paper of August, 1961. This will in fact be a second step, since some reductions were made in the herring subsidies in 1963. The Order now before your Lordships proposes a reduction of 1d. per stone in the rate of subsidy paid on the landings of herring by boats under 40 feet in length and a reduction of 10 per cent. in the daily rates of subsidy paid to the larger boats. The herring industry receives some additional assistance in the form of a subsidy paid on herring consigned for reduction to oil and meal, subject to the restriction that no more than 20 per cent. of the total landings in a particular month at a port or group of ports will qualify. In practice, about two-thirds of the herring sold for oil and meal attracts this subsidy, which by the Order will be reduced by 6 per cent. from 25s. to 23.6d. per cent. The conditions applying to the herring subsidy, apart from the changes in the rates, are unaltered. Some minor changes have been made in the Order, largely to maintain uniformity as far as possible with the Order relating to white fish subsidy.

Moved, That the Herring Subsidy (United Kingdom) Scheme 1965 be approved.—(Lord Hughes.)


My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for following his noble friend and giving the details of the herring industry. We welcome this Order also, although it may seem curious to welcome something which, in fact, reduces subsidies; but this was not entirely unanticipated. We therefore give it a welcome.

On Question, Motion agreed to.