asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to deal with a recurrence of the recent loss sustained by British fishermen when large catches were unsaleable for edible purposes owing to large scale foreign landings.
I presume the hon. Member is referring to the loss incurred during the week ended 21st May, when 825 tons of edible white fish were sent to the meal works at the four largest ports, out of 19,500 tons landed. In the light of these figures I cannot accept the implication that foreign landings are causing large losses.
Is it not also a fact that much of the fish landed fetches a very poor price; and what is the sense in sending out ships and using coal, men and ships to bring back nothing of value and at the same time paying foreign currency for landings elsewhere?
The hon. Member must realise that the general demand for fish is very good, but we cannot equate supply to demand every day.
Would not this problem disappear if the Ministry of Food refused to accept fish collected all round the coast of Iceland and brought here in cargo vessels? Why does not the Ministry insist on the same procedure with our fish as with fish bought for Germany, that is, that it goes on the actual catching trawler direct from the grounds to the port of Hamburg?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, if there is congestion at certain ports we are allowed to suspend landings.