Landing Restrictions.

Oral Answers to Questions — Fishing Industry. – in the House of Commons on 31st July 1939.

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Photo of Sir Noel Goldie Sir Noel Goldie , Warrington

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether it is proposed to renew the restrictions on the landing of fish in this country now imposed by the Sea Fishing Industry (Restriction of Fishing in Northern Waters) Order on the expiration of such order at the end of the present month; and whether, with a view to ensuring that fish may be purchased at a reasonable price by working-class consumers, he is prepared to introduce the legislation necessary to abolish or modify the voluntary scheme of control of such landing now operated by the Hull and Grimsby trawler owners?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

Since, as my right hon. Friend stated in a written reply given to the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) on 28th July, the restrictions under the Sea Fishing Industry (Restriction of Fishing in Northern Waters) Order would not, in any case, become operative again before June, 1940, he proposes to defer a final decision on its renewal until1940, when he will be able to consider the matter in the light of all the then existing circumstances. As regards the second part of the question, port prices at the present time are no higher than they were in 1934 and 1935. The voluntary scheme of control was put into operation as a remedy for acute over-production in the distant water section of the industry, resulting in a fall in prices to a level quite unremunerative to the producer. My right hon. Friend certainly could not contemplate introducing legis- lation to compel the fishing industry to catch quantities of fish which would involve them in loss.

Photo of Mr Thomas Kennedy Mr Thomas Kennedy , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered the extensively signed petitions of electors of the Burgh of Methil, Fife, protesting against the restrictions on fish landings and the effect of those restrictions on prices charged to consumers; and whether he will make a statement on the matter?

Photo of Mr Wilfrid Burke Mr Wilfrid Burke , Burnley

asked the Minister of Agriculture in view of the expiration of the Sea Fishing Industry (Restriction of Fishing in Northern Waters) Order whether he proposes to take any action calculated to reduce the price of fish which forms so large an item of food in working-class families?

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered petition forms signed by a large number of Fife citizens protesting at the increase in the price of fish due to the restrictions placed on landings; what similar protests have been received from other parts of the country; and whether he will consider the removal of all restrictions tending to raise the price to the consumer of this valuable food?

Photo of Captain Bertie Kirby Captain Bertie Kirby , Liverpool Everton

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered the representations made to him by the National Federation of Fish Friers urging that restrictions placed on the supplies of fish by the Northern Waters Restriction Order and the Trawler Owners' Voluntary Control Scheme have kept the price of fish at an unreasonably high level; and what steps he proposes to take to increase the amount of fish for sale, thus reducing prices, and increasing trade, employment and consumption of this commodity?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I would refer the hon. Members to the replies given to my hon. Friends the Members for Warrington (Mr. Goldie), Doncaster (Mr. J. Morgan) and Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 24th July, and to my hon. Friends the Members for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn), Middleton and Prestwich (Sir N. Stewart Sandeman), and Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander) on 27th July.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

As this matter is having an effect on the workers in very many districts and as they are bound to feel the pinch if prices go up, will the Minister take special steps to deal with this question and put an end to the present situation?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I have already presided at a meeting of Members of this House at which a deputation from the fish-fryers was received. This question was fully discussed with them and we are continuing the discussions.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Has the hon. Gentleman any idea when there is likely to be a report, and what is going to be done in connection with the appeal to him?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

Ships from the Northern waters will be landing catches to-morrow morning.

Photo of Sir Adrian Baillie Sir Adrian Baillie , Tonbridge

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the protests which are being made by distributors and consumers of fish and potatoes with regard to the restrictions on fish landings, and to the proposed interference of the Potato Marketing Board in the distribution of potatoes; and whether he can arrange to give both these matters consideration during the forthcoming Recess, with a view to taking steps to remove the grievances?

Photo of Mr Walter Womersley Mr Walter Womersley , Grimsby

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 27th July to my hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Mr. R. Morgan).