Orders of the Day — Fishery Limits Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1964.

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Not amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

10.11p.m.

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

That was a very short speech we had from the Parliamentary Secretary, but it was not unexpected. This Bill was adequately discussed both on Second Reading and in Committee upstairs. I want to say only a few words on it.

This Bill has been forced upon us by the action of other Governments. They have taken action unilaterally to extend their fishing limits and this Measure is a reply to that action. It is one which commends itself to the whole House. Although, as I said on Second Reading, it will do something to help the industry, the industry will be much more interested in what the Minister has to say about the date when he is to make a reply to the proposals of the White Fish Authority. That is extremely important for the industry and it is something it wants to know. Perhaps the Minister will take advantage of the situation to say what the Government's intentions are in this respect.

10.12p.m.

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

I was glad to hear what the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) said. He made clear on Second Reading and in Committee that he regards this as a necessary Bill from which our inshore fishermen will benefit.

As to the point about when we are to discuss matters affecting the wider interests of the fishing fleet as a whole, I am afraid I cannot tell him exactly on what date that will be, but as he knows always at this time of the year we have a debate on subsidies and arrangements for the coming year for the fishing fleet as a whole. I have no doubt that my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House will be announcing the date for that as soon as he can. I hope that on that occasion I shall be able to give the information for which the hon. Member has asked.

Photo of Mr Stanley Awbery Mr Stanley Awbery , Bristol Central

Can the Minister tell us how many countries have agreed to extend their limit from three miles to 12 miles?

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

No, because it is up to each individual country which is a signatory to the Convention. We are, in fact, the first to take advantage of the Convention.

10.14 p.m.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

Although we on this side of the House welcome the Bill, I wish to make one point about it. One of the disadvantages of this kind of Measure, as I suggested on Second Reading, is the inevitable resentment it causes in the fishing industries of other countries. In the last few days we have had a dramatic example of the sort of resentment and confusion which can be caused by the extension of fishing limits. The Minister knows about the extension of the Faroese limits a few months ago and the restrictions imposed on Faroese landings by the Federation with the support of the trade unions. This is an example of what could follow from this sort of Bill.

I wonder whether the Minister has observed that a group of merchants in Grimsby have applied to the Dock Labour Board to be allowed to become employers of labour in order that, contrary to the ban, they may land Faroese fish. This is a direct result of the extension of their limits by the Faroese.

I regard this sort of situation as nothing less than dangerous for the industry. I think that the Minister agrees that the only hope for the industry to have any kind of prosperous future is if all sides are united. In this kind of situation we have, on the one hand, the merchants and, on the other hand, the trawler owners, the trade unions, the skippers and the mates. If the Minister has seen reports on this situation which has arisen in Grimsby, I wonder whether he has any comment to make on it. It is a very delicate situation.

I do not propose to go into the rights and wrongs of it at this stage, but it is precisely the kind of situation caused by the extension of limits elsewhere which is creating conditions inside the industry which in the long run can do only harm to it. I shall be grateful if the Minister will tell us whether he regards himself as having any Ministerial responsibility in the matter.

10.17p.m.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

On Second Reading I drew the Minister's attention to the fact that ill will might be created by the Bill between various nations which have fishing interest in the North Sea. It is very important that the Minister should indicate what steps he has taken to prepare those nations and to come to some agreement with them.

It is also very important that he should have some regard to the guidance offered to him by the White Fish Authority. What has he done about the report issued by the White Fish Authority? What steps is he taking with the nations surrounding the North Sea which, as I said on Second Reading, I regard rather as a lake in which various nations around the North Sea are interested, in order to promote harmony and to avoid discord between those nations?

The Bill has some regard for policing the North Sea and for protective vessels. It is of the utmost importance that there should be a clear and friendly understanding between Britain and the nations concerned in order to promote the utmost harmony in that fishing area.

10.18p.m.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

We all deprecate the unilateral extension of fishery limits, but we should emphasise the contrast between the way in which the Government have handled the problem and the way in which certain foreign Governments have handled it. The Minister will recall that the Icelandic Government unilaterally extended their limits. Her Majesty's Government, on the other hand, called a conference of 16 nations and obtained a very great measure of agreement, which resulted in the Bill. I think that the Government are entitled to great credit for a Bill which will afford greatly increased facilities to many hundreds of inshore fishermen around our coasts.

10.19 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

On Second Reading and throughout Committee stage we on this side of the House have expressed our approval of the Bill. There is no party conflict. My hon. Friends the Members for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) and Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy) have dealt with points arising out of the Bill, and my hon. Friend the Member for Leith has expressed the Opposition's approval of the Bill.

We are anxious to know about future policy but we should be out of order if we went on to that argument now when we are discussing the Third Reading of the Bill. Clause 1 of the Bill deals specifically with the extension of limits to a distance of 12 miles from the base lines of the territorial sea and divides that area into two parts, the exclusive fishery limits and the outer belt. I will not go beyond that. My hon. Friend the Member for Leith, who knows the industry intimately, put a question to the Government. I think that we had a favourable reply and that we should leave the matter there. To go beyond that point in this debate would be unfair. We shall await another occasion.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.