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Inshore Fishing Fleet

Volume 167: debated on Monday 12 February 1990

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4.49 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the threat to the nation's inshore fishing fleet arising from the recent bad weather conditions."
The appalling weather of recent weeks is causing grave damage to the livelihood of the nation's fishermen, in particular to the inshore fleet. The matter needs urgent debate in Parliament. The fishing press, fully supported by information from ports throughout the United Kingdom, is reporting extensive damage to boat-owning interests and the laying-off of a large number of people working in the industry. They call for immediate emergency aid to see them through a difficult period. They are calling for, and need, the kind of aid which has readily been made available to the farming community in the past.

The matter is important, as the position in the north-west of England is causing grave concern. In my constituency the problem is acute. The Maryport fleet of 25 boats, employing between 60 and 80 people, has been tied up for more than eight weeks.

A letter from local fisherman Harold Musgrave, explaining the plight of fishermen, says:
"The situation is now so desperate that we must appeal through you for emergency aid from the Government. If it is not forthcoming, the very important role that we play in providing jobs and support to the economy of our town and West Cumbria as a whole could go to the wall."
He goes on:
"Over the past 10 years, UK fishermen have been ignored. The Government's failure to introduce a comprehensive decommissioning scheme has made matters worse and the Government is now under attack within the EEC where money is available … whether at sea or not, fishermen must pay overheads, whatever they be, high interest bank loans, insurance or the hire of equipment."
He says that bills have to be paid:
"We are asking for your full support and that of all fair-minded MPs to gain for us emergency aid now. The position is desperate."
He emphasizes the word "now", and I know that the time of the House is precious, but could you spare us time for a debate please, Mr. Speaker?

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the threat to the nation's inshore fishing fleet arising from the recent bad weather conditions."
I have listened with concern and I do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation that the hon. Member has outlined, but, as he knows, I have to base my decision on whether the application should have precedence over today's business or business tomorrow. I regret that I have to give him the same answer as I gave to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner). I cannot submit his application to the House, but hope that the hon. Member will find other methods of bringing the matter before the House.

Bill Presented

Public Records Act 1958 (Amendment) Bill

Mr. Alfred Morris, supported by Mr. Jack Ashley, Sir Richard Body, Sir Bernard Braine, Mr. Robin Corbett, Mrs. Margaret Ewing, Mr. Neil Hamilton, Mr. Denis Healey, Mr. Merlyn Rees, Rev. Martin Smyth, Sir David Steel and Mr. Dafydd Wigley, presented a Bill to amend the Public Records Act 1958 to permit the making of a permanent loan or a gift of a public record: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 2 March and to be printed. [Bill 70.]

European Community Documents

Ordered,

That European Community Documents Nos. 9127/89, 10318/87 and 4406/88 on generalised system of preferences (Poland, Hungary and Korea) be referred to a Standing Committee on European Community Documents.—[Mr. John M. Taylor.]