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Herring Landings, Aberdeen (Sales Ban)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1947

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(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the action of the Scottish Herring Producers' Association in organising a ban on the sale of herring landed by the English herring fleet at Aberdeen and whether he is aware that this prohibition is contrary to the directions of the Herring Industry Board, and in view of the present necessity to ensure maximum supplies of fish in the national interest, if he will take immediate steps to uphold the authority of the Herring Industry Board and secure the withdrawal of this ban.

I am aware that the Scottish Herring Producers' Association have decided to prohibit the sale in Scotland during the summer fishing of herrings landed by certain English drifters. This ban has no legal force whatever and the Herring Industry Board have already made this clear both to the association and to all others concerned. Further, the board have intimated to the association that they will take such steps as may be necessary to prevent the ban, if persisted in, from being effective. In particular the board will arrange, if necessary, for salesmen to handle the catches landed by the English drifters. I deprecate the action which the Scottish fishermen have taken on this matter and hope that on reconsideration they will change their attitude.

While welcoming, on behalf of the herring industry, the statement made by the Minister, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that relations between the English and Scottish fishermen will be seriously prejudiced by this action, and will he do all he can to maintain the authority of the Herring Industry Board throughout the season?

I will certainly continue to maintain the authority of the Herring Board. If its authority is not strong enough, we shall have to consider ways and means. It will be impossible to regulate this industry aright if the Herring Board is allowed to be overruled by the Producers' Association.

Will the Secretary of State consider having a stronger English element on the Herring Board and moving it from Edinburgh to the East coast?

Could my right hon. Friend make it clear to the Scottish fisher- men that this is a double-edged weapon, that Scottish fishermen reap a rich harvest when they go to the South to land their catches, and that this can cut both ways?

Is the Secretary of State aware that the views expressed by the Herring Producers' Association in no way express the unanimous views of Scottish fishermen?

I was perfectly sure of that, and that is the reason I wanted the Producers' Association to understand that, as Secretary of State, I very much deprecate the action they have taken.

Will the right hon. Gentleman recommend a similar policy to the Prime Minister in dealing with unofficial strikes?

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that speedy action will be taken by the Herring Industry Board so that herring fishermen in England do not have to take retaliatory action late in the season when the fish are landed at English ports?

I shall do everything possible to bring about amicable relations in the industry as speedily as possible.