Orders of the Day — Sea Fish Industry Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th November 1961.

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Photo of Captain Hon. Richard Stanley Captain Hon. Richard Stanley , North Fylde 12:00 am, 14th November 1961

I feel rather like a poacher. I feel that I am poaching some of the time of Scottish Members. We hear a lot from Scottish Members in these debates. With the salmon season coming in, they seem to have become even more voluble.

I wish to talk about the provisions of the Bill which relate to white fish. Here I should like to congratulate the Minister on the Bill. There is no doubt that the people in the industry to whom I have spoken are delighted at what the Bill proposes to do. It sounded rather like a gastronomical talk when my right hon. Friend the Minister spoke about salmon and oysters, but when my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Marshall) referred to pilchards we came back to reality.

I am pleased that the Government are hopeful—I suppose they could not be much more than that—that we shall not have any more subsidies for white fish in ten years' time. I think that the industry itself is a little optimistic here. I have an awful feeling that perhaps in eight year's time the Minister will come to the House and say that, because of a financial crisis or something like that, the Bill must be extended for another five years. I feel that the Bill will put the industry on a very sound footing.

I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend say that trawlers could make five instead of three trips to distant waters. If a firm had four new trawlers, one could do twenty trips while the other three concentrated on middle-water fishing. That is something which the industry particularly wants.

I now turn to the question of replacement. I know that the Minister thinks that for every two tons of shipping which is scrapped one ton is built. There is a firm in my constituency which believes that if it can sell a trawler for export, having paid off all its grants and loans, it should be allowed to apply again for another grant and loan for a new vessel. It feels that in this way it would be helping the export trade.

I should now like to say a few words about Icelandic fishing. Could not boats fish there the whole year round? Obviously they cannot fish all over the Icelandic fisheries, but I think the industry would like the chance to fish in certain parts for twelve months of the year.

I agree that there must be a minimum price for fish. No doubt when more fish comes into this country the price will take a nosedive. Many of the trawlers will come back with uneconomical catches. That leads me to say that I do not believe that the trawling industry as a whole does nearly enough propaganda. In many large villages inland, even in some very small towns, there is not a fishmonger. Fish is not like other produce, such as milk, meat or vegetables, which is sold from lorries which travel round the villages and towns. I have never seen that happen with fish. It is true, perhaps, that not all the fish can be carried around, but if the van called on, say, a Tuesday or a Friday, orders could be taken for what people wanted in two or three days' time. By doing this, much more fish would be sold. Therefore, if the additional fish come in and are available, by selling them the industry can be made as prosperous as we want it to be. I regard the Bill as an excellent one.