White Fish Subsidy (Continuance)

Oral Answers to Questions — Fishing Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1952.

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Photo of Sir William Duthie Sir William Duthie , Banffshire 12:00 am, 24th July 1952

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will take steps to ensure that the white fish subsidy is continued after 31st July, 1952, and that a higher rate per stone of fish is paid in view of the increased costs in fishing operations.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

asked the Minister of Agriculture what changes are contemplated in the white fish industry when the subsidy comes to an end in July, 1952.

Mr. T. Williams:

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the white fish subsidy is to be continued beyond July, 1952; and, if so, on what terms and conditions.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

The Government have decided to continue payment of the white fish subsidy for a further period up to the end of March, 1953, but not to increase the rates generally. Consideration is being given to one or two minor upward adjustments, but the total level of expenditure will be little above that of the last year.

Photo of Sir William Duthie Sir William Duthie , Banffshire

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that statement will give general satisfaction throughout the section of the fishing industry concerned, and also that in some sections of the inshore fishing industry, particularly in the west of England, fishermen are having great difficulty in making ends meet owing to the increase in the cost of gear and in operating costs, and to reduced catches due to the activities of foreign trawlers operating in our own domestic waters?

Mr. T. Williams:

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this subsidy, quite properly, was announced about two years ago as a temporary measure pending the production by the White Fish Authority of objective reports on reorganisation within the industry? Can the right hon. Gentleman say when we are likely to have a report from the Authority which may avoid the necessity for a further continuance of the subsidy?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

We have just had a report from the White Fish Authority, and I would inform the House that this decision has been taken in consultation with them. They are continuing their consideration of this very difficult problem.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the position, after these arrangements have been made, will mean that we shall then have a minimum price, a subsidy, and no maximum price? Can he also say whether, when the controlled maximum price was removed, that was done on the advice of the experts at that time who said that the result would be a lowering of fish prices generally?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I think the hon. Gentleman is referring to retail prices. That, of course, is a question for my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Food.