§ 34. Mr. Buchanan-Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals the Commission of the European Economic Community is making to revise the fishing vessels decommissioning scheme; if his Department is participating in discussions on this; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The Commission has made a number of proposals for amending the existing fleet structure regulations (EEC No. 4028/86). The main proposals involve— extending to smaller fishing vessels the availability of Community financial aid for restructuring and renewal, modernisation and adjustment of capacity;— greater incentives for exploratory fishing and joint ventures through higher grant assistance;— the introduction of redeployment operations: the exploitation of non-Community fishery resources with a view to supplying the Community market;— new rates of grant for decommissioning.
Under the proposals Community reimbursement for decommissioning would be increased to 70 per cent. of eligible expenditure where vessels are scrapped; and remain at 50 per cent. for withdrawal for purposes other than fishing or for permanent export to third countries. Levels of eligible expenditure would vary depending on age and tonnage of the vessel concerned.
All member states and their respective industries have been invited to comment on the proposals and the Government have submitted a number of points to the Commission. Given the level of overcapacity in the Community fleet generally, we have questioned the extension of grant aid to the construction of smaller fishing vessels, and have taken the view that the additional measures should be accommodated within the existing financial provisions for these activities. As far as the capacity of the United Kingdom fleet is concerned the Government remain of the view that a decommissioning grant scheme does not provide value for money and this view has been reinforced by the proposal to increase rates of grant.