While I should welcome an opportunity, if the House so desired, to make a statement on the Fish Zoning Scheme, I regret it would not be possible to make an exhaustive statement by way of Question and answer without unduly trespassing on the time of the House. I may, however, at the moment be permitted to say first, that the fish landed and allocated at the ports since 17th October, the date on which the Zoning Scheme came into operation, has been substantially in excess of the fish landed in the corresponding period last year; second, that over a large part of the country the scheme is working satisfactorily; third, that hourly attention is being given in my Department to every case of difficulty as it arises, and the House will understand there must be some; and, finally, that I have the authority of my Noble Friend the Minister of War Transport to say that already the saving in inland transport, which is the object of this scheme, is 6,000 train miles a week, and that this figure is likely to increase.
My Noble Friend yesterday met the Fish Industry Joint Council, and, as a result, it may be hoped that closer cooperation between the industry and the Department will lead to the smoother working of the Zoning Scheme.
To enable the Parliamentary Secretary to make to the House the statement he desires to make, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment for the Christmas Recess.
A miscalculation in the allocations of fish to the Southampton sub-zone resulted in a shortage of fish in Southampton. Immediately this was discovered steps were taken to remedy the error, and at the same time a substantial additional quantity of fish was sent to Southampton, with the result that during the six weeks ended 28th November wholesale fish merchants in Southampton received approximately 90 per cent. of their entitlements under the Scheme of Fish Distribution. I have no reason to think that the quantity now being sent to Southampton is materially less than the entitlement.
Mr. Arthur Duckworth:
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that under the Fish Zoning Scheme retail traders at Shrewsbury are not receiving supplies proportionate to the quantities received during the datum period; and what steps are being taken to remedy the situation?
I am aware that the supplies of fish to certain retail traders in Shrewsbury since the commencement of the Distribution Scheme have not been proportionate to those they received during the datum period. Steps are being taken to adjust the position.
My Noble Friend has considered the telegram to which my hon. Friend refers. Adjustments are in process to secure an improvement in supplies of fish to Bristol, and meanwhile temporary measures are being put in force to provide Bristol with an additional supply of fish to complete their equitable proportion of fish supplies.
Is my hon. Friend aware that since the Zoning Scheme came into operation, the supply of fish in Bristol has been reduced to less than half, and will he take fairly active steps to see that Bristol has a supply?
I think my hon. and gallant Friend has probably seen the statement that was made yesterday by my Noble Friend to the Fish Industry Joint Council, in which he expressed his views.
When the hon. Gentleman publishes a statement giving the complaints, will he also publish a statement of the satisfaction expressed by industrial areas which have received more fish and not less?