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Inshore Fishermen

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 12 February 1975

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19.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now introduce an operating subsidy for inshore fishermen.

No detailed case for such a subsidy has been submitted, but the Government are aware of the industry's financial position and hope to make a statement soon.

That is a reasonably fair answer, but will the Minister bear in mind that the situation is particularly serious in the Clyde area, where escalating costs have not been accompanied by nearly such a big rise in the price of nephthrops landed on that part of the coast?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that I met representatives of the inshore section of the industry in December. We are still awaiting information on costs and earnings and checking the figures which were produced then. I am aware that the additional cost of fuel for the fishing industry generally is a burden that has to be shared by everyone in the community, and we hope to be able to make an announcement about that in the near future.

I am grateful to the Minister for his reference, presumably, to the Scottish Trawlers' Federation, whose problems are at least as severe as those mentioned by the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart). Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the new quota system, rising building costs, rising wages—particularly in competition with oil wages—and rising fuel costs are causing the Scottish Trawlers' Federation problems of unparalleled severity?

I met the inshore men in December, and last week I met the Scottish Trawlers' Federation. Again, I was impressed by the facts and figures that were produced. We are checking the details, and we have assured the federation that what was put to us will have sympathetic consideration.

Will the Minister for once recognise the full potential of the Scottish industry and see to it that his colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office go ahead and get the 200-mile limit?

I am in some difficulty in knowing where the Scottish National Party stands on this matter. One day it wants a 50-mile limit, and the next day a 200-mile limit. Unfortunately, fish do not recognise national boundaries. On a more serious note, we are well prepared for the Law of the Sea Conference and are taking into account all the official representations that have been made.