§ Mr. McQuarrie
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement about the financial affairs of the Sea Fish Industry Authority.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
The Government propose to make a grant towards the costs incurred by the Sea Fish Industry Authority in administering the scheme of Government grants for the construction and improvement of fishing vessels (SI 1981/1765). The grant will be 100 per cent. of the reasonable costs incurred by the authority, up to a maximum in 1982–83 of £200,000. Payments will be subject to cash limits. Subject to Parliamentary approval of this new service, which will be sought in Supplementary Estimates, payment will be made with effect from 1 April 1982. The amount involved will be found from savings within the vote so there will be no substantive increase in the approved cash limit for 1982–83 on Class III, Vote 5.
The Government propose also to provide a guarantee to the authority in respect of default of certain loans made to persons engaged in the fishing industry with Government funds, by the authority and by its 225W predecessors the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board. The reasons for, and terms of, the guarantee are set out in a Minute which was presented to Parliament today.
The Sea Fish Industry Authority will make appropriate provision against potential bad debts in respect of loans it approves in the future.
The authority, with the agreement of the Government, has accepted that the objective during 1982–83 should be to avoid any net increase in the total of arrears due from the authority to the Government above the total outstanding on 30 April 1982, and as soon as possible during the course of 1982–83 to initiate a programme of continuing reductions in the outstanding arrears with a view to their eventual elimination.
These measures give the Sea Fish Industry Authority additional Government finance to help it meet its costs and provide it with considerable additional financial security. This new help from the Government underlines its commitment to the authority and its determination to safeguard and promote the interests of the industry.