HL Deb 28 July 1966 vol 276 cc907-8

2.25 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the White Fish and Herring Subsidies (United Kingdom) Scheme 1966 be approved. On this occasion the Government have decided that since many of the provisions for white fish and herring subsidies are common to both, it would be sensible to combine the separate Schemes of past years into one. I hope that this course commends itself to your Lordships.

Before I turn to the Government's proposals, perhaps I should say a few words about the economic state of the industry. The years 1961 and 1962 were rather poor years; 1964 was for most sections of the fleet a distinctly good year, on the other hand; 1965 was a mixed year: but the inshore and herring sections on average showed a considerable improvement in profits compared to 1964. This was particularly evident in Scotland.

The distant water section of the trawler fleet showed a rise in operating profits, but the near and middle water sections did less well, and the trawler fleet as a whole showed little change in profitability compared with 1964. Total British landings of white fish rose by about 65,000 tons to 790,000 tons and, though prices were generally a little lower, increased in value by about £3.5 million to £55 million. Herring landings in the United Kingdom increased a little in weight, but by about 8 per cent, in value, to £3 million.

It is always difficult to make forecasts and I should not like to attempt this for 1966. There is, however, no sign so far of any falling off, of herring or inshore earnings, and according to the provisional information I have been given the deep- sea gross earnings this year are somewhat better than for the comparable period last year. As your Lordships may know, we have recently seen a development in the herring industry with the conversion of two vessels as purse seiners. This is a form of fishing which has been successfully developed in the Scandinavian countries, and the results achieved so far by the two vessels—one English and one Scottish—suggest that it may prove a profitable method of fishing during some of our seasonal herring fisheries.

I now turn to the provisions of the Scheme, which covers all sections of white fish and herring catches. For the deep sea trawler section the Sea Fish Industry Act 1962 provides that the basic daily rates of subsidy must he reduced annually by between 7½ per cent. and 12½ per cent.


My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting him? But I wonder whether it would help matters if I were to tell him that we on these Benches do not oppose this Order, and as there is a very long list of speakers for the principal debate, it might be convenient for the House to take it more formally.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, and I hurriedly accept his offer. I beg formally to move that the Order be approved.

Moved, That the White Fish and Herring Subsidies (United Kingdom) Scheme 1966, be approved.—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.