Herring Landings, Lerwick.

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland. – in the House of Commons on 6th July 1937.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that on 2nd July some 13½ million herring were landed at Lerwick; whether as a result of this glut of supply the port was closed to imports for the succeeding two days; whether at the same port in June, 1936, over 16,000 cwts. of herring were thrown back into the sea; whether many of the share fishermen in Scotland being debarred from unemployment benefit are in semi-starvation; and what steps he proposes to take to reorganise this industry on a basis of production for use with a guaranteed livelihood to the fishermen?

Photo of Captain Hon. Arthur Hope Captain Hon. Arthur Hope , Birmingham Aston

My right hon. Friend is aware of the heavy landings at Lerwick on 1st and 2nd July, but he understands that nearly all the herring were disposed of for human consumption, and that the port was closed for Saturday in order to give time for their treatment and to prevent the arrival of additional herring which could not be treated before Sunday. In June, 1936, more herring were caught at the end of the week than could be treated before Sunday, and some 12,000 cwts. had consequently to be returned to the sea. My right hon. Friend is aware that the earnings of herring share fishermen generally have for some years been on a low level, but to a large and increasing extent herring fishermen are now paid partly by wage and are within the scope of the Unemployment Insurance Act. As regards the last part of the question, the Herring Industry Act, 1935, made provision for the reorganisation and development of the herring industry, and the board constituted under that Act are doing their utmost to expand the markets for herring so as to assist the fishermen.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

Is the hon. Member aware that the figure of 16,000 cwt. of herring thrown back into the sea is taken from the annual report of the Fishery Board; and is he further aware that there is widespread and long continued starvation of these herring fishermen all round the northern coasts of Scotland; and can he give any assurance to this House that urgent steps will be taken to insure that their produce shall be marketed in future at least in the Distressed Areas?

Photo of Captain Hon. Arthur Hope Captain Hon. Arthur Hope , Birmingham Aston

I will, of course, convey the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion to my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Thomas Johnston Mr Thomas Johnston , Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire Western

May I ask where the hon. and gallant Member got the figure of 12,000 cwt., seeing that the Official Report says 16,000?

Photo of Captain Hon. Arthur Hope Captain Hon. Arthur Hope , Birmingham Aston

The official figure I was given was 12,000.

Viscountess Astor:

Is it not a very serious allegation the right hon. Gentleman is making that fishermen in Scotland are half-starved?

Viscountess Astor:

We have many distressed fishermen in the West country.