§ Mr. Gray
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 22 December 1997,Official Report, column 493, in what areas he judged it necessary to invoke the Hague Preference on stocks at the last Fisheries Council; in which areas it could have been invoked and was not held to be necessary; and if he will press for an extension of the Hague Preference to other areas of the United Kingdom. 
§ Mr. Morley
[holding answer 5 February 1998]: At the December 1997 Fisheries Council, the UK invoked Hague Preference in respect of stocks of West of Scotland saithe and whiting, North Sea whiting and Irish Sea cod and whiting. This was the first occasion that Hague Preference had been invoked for North Sea whiting.
In view of the Council's decision to maintain national quotas for West of Scotland herring at levels agreed in previous years, the UK did not invoke Hague Preference for this stock and, in line with longstanding practice, the UK did not invoke it for North Sea mackerel; nor did we invoke Hague Preference in respect of North Sea sprat or Norway pout for which the Council allocated the full total allowable catches to Member States for the first time.
Hague Preference may be invoked only for certain stocks of importance to fisheries dependent communities in Ireland and the northern parts of the UK. Its use is opposed by some other Member States and I do not see any prospect of Member States with fisheries dependent areas which do not benefit from Hague Preference agreeing to its being made available for other stocks and other areas of the United Kingdom.