Herring Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1951.

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Photo of Mr David Robertson Mr David Robertson , Caithness and Sutherland 12:00 am, 24th July 1951

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on what date herring curers in Wick who had completed their Herring Industry Board quota were notified that, subject to certain conditions, they could go on buying herrings and curing them from 10th July.

Mr. McNeil:

I am informed by the Herring Industry Board that all curers at Wick who have completed their quota were informed of the arrangement referred to by the hon. Gentleman before they had done so, some on 10th July and others as they neared their quota.

Photo of Mr David Robertson Mr David Robertson , Caithness and Sutherland

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept my assurance that no curers at all in the town of Wick had any knowledge of this change until the night of the 12th, two days after the Order came into operation?

Mr. McNeil:

I should be glad to accept it, because the hon. Gentleman and I share anxiety upon the point. In fairness to the Board, I must say that information in my possession leads me to conclude that some of the curers at any rate had the information on 10th July.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the plans of the Herring Industry Board for the restoration of the herring fishing and marketing of the landings in the Isle of Barra and the Uist Islands.

Mr. McNeil:

Until there is evidence of the return to the Barra and Uist grounds of the shoals of fine quality summer herring obtained there before the war, I am informed by the Board that they would not feel justified in renewing the efforts they have made since the war to redevelop herring fishing and the facilities for the disposal of the catch in the area.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the Western Isles some of the world's finest seamen are now standing idle? Surely something can be done by the Herring Industry Board to give them employment?

Mr. McNeil:

It would be very unreasonable if a person of my name, of all people, were inconsiderate to this Island of Barra. I must admit, since these shoals are not there in quantity, that it would be unjustifiable to set up machinery and facilities which could not be used because of the absence of the herring in substantial quantities.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the maatjes cured in this locality are an epicurean article ranking with caviar? Will he therefore direct the Herring Industry Board to make intensive research into this matter, as the result might be very advantageous to this country?

Mr. McNeil:

I am so delighted to hear the hon. Member turning away from his parochial choice of herring and oatmeal that I am anxious to agree with him. I have spent some time trying to persuade some of my American friends of the obvious truths about our herring. The fact is, however, that the herring are not now there in quantity. If the hon. Gentleman has any influence on this subject, perhaps he will let me know.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have seen herring— some of the finest herring in the world— landed at this place in the early summer, only to be sold for fishmeal and oil products? Surely the Herring Industry Board have some better policy than that.

Mr. McNeil:

I do not quarrel with my hon. Friend at all on this subject. Whatever the fine summer quality of the herring may be, we can dispose of the fish. Unfortunately, there is not the herring in the seas at the moment, and I scarcely think the Government can be asked to take action to remedy that situation.