HC Deb 01 August 1966 vol 733 cc30-1W
Mr. Hamling

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what conclusions he has reached on the recommendations of the Bledisloe Committee regarding the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Acts 1923 to 1935.

Mr. Peart

This Committee examined with great thoroughness and care the provisions of this legislation, and made recommendations for a comprehensive code of legislation covering salmon and freshwater fisheries in the light of modern requirements. I am grateful to Lord Bledisloe and his colleagues for their recommendations, and am happy to say that they are generally acceptable to the Government.

We agree in particular that the local administration of the Acts is generally sound, and that greater responsibility can be placed on the River Authorities in matters where they can at present only act with the consent of the Minister or which are now determined by statutory provision in the Act. This will allow for greater emphasis on local responsibility and initiative. In this connection my Department propose to discuss with the fishery interests whether River Authorities should in the interests of securing better availability of fishing to anglers exercise to a greater extent than at present their powers to acquire and manage fisheries.

Since the Committee reported, the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1964, and the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act, 1965, have implemented two of the Committee's recommendations for amendment of the present fisheries legislation. In addition, a number of the Committee's recommendations with regard to prevention of pollution and water abstraction have been met by the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act, 1961, and the Water Resources Act, 1963.

The recommendations include a great number dealing with relatively detailed matters. The Government have embodied their main conclusions on the more important questions of principle and policy (subject to reservation of their views on certain problems common to England, Wales and Scotland which have been reported on by the Hunter Committee in Scotland) in a circular letter to the Association of River Authorities and the principal bodies concerned with salmon and freshwater fisheries. I am placing a copy of this letter in the Library of the House for the benefit of Members who wish to consider the matter in greater detail. Decisions about legislation will be taken in the light of any further comments received from the interests who are now being consulted.