Oral Answers to Questions — Herring Fishing Industry.

– in the House of Commons on 17th May 1934.

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Photo of Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter , Hertford

46.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether any steps have been taken by his Department since 25th March to obtain increased offers from the Soviet authorities for salt herring; and, if so, will he state whether business has resulted?

Photo of Mr John Colville Mr John Colville , Midlothian and Peeblesshire Northern

I have lost no opportunity of impressing the importance of this matter on the Soviet trade representative in this country. As regards the second part of the question, although no business has yet resulted, I understand that negotiations are in progress.

Photo of Major Murdoch Wood Major Murdoch Wood , Banffshire

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman still in touch with the situation and doing what he can to assist in the negotiations?

Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife Eastern

57.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the negotiations with the German Government for increasing the quota on currency export have reached a conclusion; if so, with what result; and what hopes he holds out of an early reduction of the barrier to British export trade and particularly to the herring industry?

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

I am not at present in a position to add to the reply I gave to a similar question by the hon. and gallant Member for Hertford (Sir M. Sueter) on the 15th May.

Photo of Mr William Stewart Mr William Stewart , Belfast South

In view of the depression in the industry and the great anxiety with regard to this obstacle, can the President of the Board of Trade hold out hopes of an early and more favourable reply?

Photo of Mr Walter Runciman Mr Walter Runciman , St Ives

I am afraid I can say nothing more at present.

Photo of Mr William Stewart Mr William Stewart , Belfast South

58.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the negotiations with Russia for the sale of herrings during the present year have reached a conclusion; and, if so, with what result?

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Combined Scottish Universities

No, Sir. I understand that the negotiations are still in progress. The second part of the question, therefore, does not arise.

Photo of Mr William Stewart Mr William Stewart , Belfast South

Can my hon. Friend indicate what is the obstacle to agreement, and whether any steps can be taken on this side, or by negotiations between the Governments, to get over that difficulty?

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Combined Scottish Universities

No, Sir, I should not like to answer that part of the question without notice.

Photo of Captain John McEwen Captain John McEwen , Berwickshire and Haddingtonshire

Can the hon. Member say whether he anticipates that any substantial order will be placed by the Soviet Government?.

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Combined Scottish Universities

It would, I feel, be a most unfortunate circumstance in the interests of the development of mutual trade between the two countries if the negotiations did not result in a substantial increase of trade.

Mr. WEST (for Mr. LEONARD):

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the destitution existing in the Scottish fishing communities in consequence of the continued depression in the herring fishing industry; and whether it is proposed to take any ameliorative action?

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Combined Scottish Universities

My right hon. Friend fully appreciates the depression existing in the herring industry and the economic effects of that depression in the fishing communities concerned. On the general question as affecting the herring industry, I would refer to the statement which I made on Tuesday in reply to the hon. Member for Banffshire (Sir M. Wood). So far as the relief of individuals is concerned, I have no reason to suppose that the position is incapable of being dealt with by the normal methods of public assistance.

Mr. WEST:

Has the hon. Gentleman received any representations from the town council of Buckie or from the county council of Banff?

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Combined Scottish Universities

Yes, Sir; telegrams have been received from various bodies, including the two mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, expressing alarm at the situation.

Photo of Mr William Stewart Mr William Stewart , Belfast South

In view of the sharp divergence of opinion as to the degree of the present depression, will the hon. Gentleman consider calling for an emergency report from the Sea Fish Commission as to the facts of the present situation, and base thereupon an immediate set of emergency proposals in order to overcome what we understand is the severe depression?

Photo of Mr Archibald Skelton Mr Archibald Skelton , Combined Scottish Universities

Without assuming the correctness of my hon. Friend's statement that there is a divergence of opinion as to the severity of the depression. I will consider his suggestion.