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Trawler Fleet (Grants)

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1965

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8.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the present position on building subsidies for distant-water trawlers.

16.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the manner in which he will allocate the £800,000 now provided as grant to the distant-water section of the trawling fleet.

A sum of £1·6 million has been allocated for grants for fishing vessels to the end of the financial year 1966–67. Of this sum, approximately £860,000 will be available for the trawler fleet as a whole. The distribution of this total will, of course, depend on the approval of individual applications.

Would the Minister agree that the sum is totally inadequate? Would he also agree that the White Fish Authority is bogged down by building grants and, as a result, owners are not able to carry on with forward planning? Can the right hon. Gentleman say how much of the sum which he mentioned is as yet unused?

I cannot do that. I do not believe that the sum is inadequate. I think that the balance is right. It is often difficult to make comparisons with the past, but I think that what we have done is reasonable.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that applications for new vessels total a little over £2 million and that we in West Hull, the capital of the deep sea fishing industry, thank him for a wise decision? We can plan ahead now until 1970.

There has been very considerable delay in this matter, whatever feelings there are about the figures—and I share the feelings of my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall). The owners are very concerned and they need to carry out long-term planning in this sort of industry. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman ensure that they are made more clearly aware of exactly where they stand in regard to the grants?

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his first appearance at the Box as shadow Minister of Agriculture. The Authority will consider the applications. We must leave this matter to the Authority. I think that that is sensible. I would not try to destroy that practice.

In view of the unsatisfactory reply to the Question, I beg to give notice that I will try to raise the matter on the Adjournment.