§ Mr. Marland
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to improve the grading of fish sold in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Gummer
Under the rules of the European Community fisheries policy, the main species of fish must be graded before they are first offered for sale. My right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Scotland propose to use their powers under section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 to lay before Parliament later this year measures to back up the EC requirements in this field.
The Community has laid down standards of freshness and size to which all the main species of fish should be graded before they are offered for sale. Their aim is to improve the saleability of fish and the livelihoods of those who depend on it. Much of the running has so far been made by the fish producer organisations, although the Government are channelling nearly £8 million through the Sea Fish Industry Authority to improve marketing in general. Ministers have now decided that the time is right to take action to back up the Community rules with penalties for failure to observe them. We shall be laying the necessary regulations before Parliament later this year after consultation with interested parties.