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Fishing Industry

Volume 982: debated on Thursday 17 April 1980

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from the fishing industry about the adequacy of the temporary aid proposals.

The fishing industry generally has welcomed the aid which my right hon. Friend announced on 13 March.

Will the Minister ensure, first, that the subsidy, small and inadequate as it is, will not become a subsidy for failure, which would penalise ports such as Grimsby, which have done their best to fight back? Secondly, will he recognise the pressing need for aid to the processing industry, which is having to carry a heavy burden of stocks to level out the fluctuations of local landings? Is he aware that if that burden continues there is a danger of redundancies in the fish processing industry and, therefore, a case for aid?

The hon. Gentleman has made the accusation of smallness and inadequacy. That view is not shared generally by the fishing industry. The aid that was announced was in line with the figures asked for by spokesmen from the Opposition Benches. We are concerned about the position of fish processors. That is something that we keep much in mind.

Does the Minister regard the common fisheries policy as one of the outstanding benefits of EEC membership?

A properly re-negotiated common fisheries policy, towards which we are working and towards which the previous Labour Government made no progress, gives the best assurance internationally of the properly controlled conservation of fish stocks. As the right hon. Gentleman must know, unless we can conserve fish stocks effectively there will be no livelihood for fishermen in Britain or in any other country.

Will the Minister confirm that the share of the £2 million that goes to the deep-sea sector—namely to Hull—will be about a quarter of a million pounds? Does he accept that it may be less than £280,000? Is he aware that the cost for a purse seiner amounts to £4½ million? Will it be necessary to go overseas to Norway to get the money to finance our deep sea fleet? Surely it is possible for the Government to give some help. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that West Germany helps its deep sea fishing fleet with subsidies and other assistance.

The hon. Gentleman is confusing two issues, namely the temporary scheme that has been announced and the capital aids that are available. We are giving details to the producer organisations today of the precise sums available to the different producer organisations. The spending of the money is left to their discretion. As for aiding the capital structure of the industry, there are aids available in Britain as elsewhere.