HC Deb 14 December 1954 vol 535 cc131-2W
Major Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the concern felt by distant-water trawler owners over the number of applications for grants from the White Fish Authority for new trawlers between 130 and 140 feet in length, which are capable of fishing in distant waters; and what action he proposes to take to ensure that the Exchequer monies made available for grants are used for their proper purpose of rebuilding the near and middle-water fleet.

Mr. Amory

The 15 middle-water trawlers between 130 and 140 feet for which the White Fish Authority have received applications for grant will only partially replace the 28 middle-water trawlers which have gone out of commission since the end of July, 1952, the operative starting-date of the building grants scheme. These vessels are well suited for the Farces and West Coast Fisheries and there is no evidence that they are being built in numbers larger than the middle-water fisheries can support.

I am aware there are fears that such vessels may nevertheless be extensively used in distant waters. Moreover, the provision of grants without explicit regard to the requirements of the near and middle-water fisheries as a whole might lead in time to the creation of an ill-balanced fleet. After consulting the White Fish Authority, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I are therefore proposing to strengthen the existing restrictions in the scheme on the use in distant waters of further vessels built with grants, and also co put it beyond doubt that the White Fish Authority, in considering applications for grant, may have regard to the needs of the fisheries as well as to the individual merits of the applications. The necessary Statutory Instrument will be laid before Parliament shortly.