§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
[The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the forthcoming negotiations about the fishery regulations of the European Economic Community, they will insist upon the maintenance of the present protection of our inshore breeding grounds such as the Minches, the Moray Firth, the Clyde, Cardigan Bay, Morecambe Bay, the Isle of Man, the Solway Firth, and the Wash, in addition to the establishment of a general six-mile limit.]
My Lords, the proposals which we have put to the Communities would secure protection of the areas mentioned by the noble Lord, and those proposals remain on the Table. The Communities have recognised that reconsideration of their present policy would be necessary in the event of enlargement, and they have agreed to discuss the question in detail at Ministerial level in the week beginning July 12.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, while thanking the noble Earl very much indeed for his most encouraging reply, may I ask him whether he and Her Majesty's Government would bear in mind that if we were to allow foreign trawlers to be based upon United Kingdom ports and harbours then our inshore fishermen would be denied protection of any kind? Therefore it really is necessary that we should prevent the foreign trawlers, with their damaging fishing gear, from being based on British ports and harbours.
My Lords, I certainly take the noble Lords point, which is an important one; and this will of course be one of the matters which will be under discussion. I would merely point out to the noble Lord that, of 581 course, there is nothing in present legislation to prevent foreign fishermen from taking up residence in Britain. It is unlikely that the enlargement of the Community would result in greatly increased numbers of Community fishermen taking up permanent residence in this country, with all the fiscal and other obligations which this would involve. But the question of establishment is an important one, and it is one which will be discussed at the forthcoming meeting.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that Welsh fishing may not be a dominant factor in the whole of British fishing, but, nevertheless, if there were a loophole after entry into the Common Market and we had no insistence on the size of the mesh in the nets, then quite a lot of damage could be done? Among all these suggestions, are we trying to standardise the size of the mesh, at the very least, whatever may happen about the Common Market?
My Lords, under the Common Market arrangements as they at present stand, within the Community each member country has the right to make its own regulations with regard, for instance, to the size of mesh or to the size of horsepower of boats used.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, while I am very grateful for that answer, and while not claiming to be an expert, may I ask the noble Earl whether he does not think that this can be a chaotic position unless we try to get some regulations which are roughly standardised should we enter the Common Market?
My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point, which again is important. I know that there are fears that some people may use small size mesh. I was saying that the Common Market countries at the moment have jurisdiction over their own waters, and even if we were to join the Common Market with the existing regulations we should still have power over our own waters to stipulate, among other things, the size of mesh.