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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.