HC Deb 26 July 1978 vol 954 cc755-6W
Mr. Roderick

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Council of Ministers (Fisheries) meeting in Brussels this week.

Mr. John Silkin

I represented Her Majesty's Government at a meeting of the Fisheries Council in Brussels on 24th and 25th July.

The Council was marked by an attempt on the part of the German Presidency to force the United Kingdom to accept qualified majority voting on fishery matters. This would inevitably have prejudiced our stand for a just settlement of the common fisheries policy, and after protracted debate, in which I re-emphasised the Government's refusal to accept this procedure, I established clearly that the United Kingdom could not be com- pelled to accept voting on fishery matters which affect our fundamental national interest. This was subsequently demonstrated in the Council when I opposed the conclusion of framework agreements with the Faroes, Sweden and Norway.

The Council agreed on a division of the EEC's quotas off Northern Norway for the next three months and off the Faroes for 1978 as a whole. The division preserves our share of the most important species taken in these waters on the basis of the allocation agreed last September. Consequently, it was possible to reach agreement in principle on a further roll-forward of the arrangements for reciprocal fishing between the EEC and third countries.

The Council also agreed on the provision of funds to assist coastal States to maintain effective fishery protection in waters under their sovereignty or jurisdiction. Initially this will apply to waters around Ireland and Greenland, but an amendment was adopted by the Council to provide that the arrangement may tie extended to other member States, including, of course, the United Kingdom. The Council also agreed to a limited scheme of aid, not extending beyond the end of this year, for investment in inshore fishing vessels and fish farming in certain regions

Finally, I drew the Council's attention to the latest scientific advice regarding the herring fishery around the Isle of Man, but the Council did not reach any conclusion on measures to conserve this stock.