asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the developments and improvements in fish farming undertaken by the White Fish Authority in co-operation with the University of Strathclyde directed towards raising the temperature in the chosen experimental Scottish lochs and towards feeding the embryo fish in order to increase their size and vitamin content; and what assistance the Government is giving to these improvements and developments.
I am aware of the work which is being carried out by the White Fish Authority in co-operation with the University of Strathclyde. This is part of the Authority's research and development programme, for which it receives a grant of 50 per cent. from the Government. The initial work on the artificial rearing of sea fish was carried out by scientists of the fisheries departments who are continuing these studies and collaborating with the White Fish Authority and others to determine the environmental conditions necessary for fish farming.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the White Fish Authority is to be congratulated upon its initiative in this matter, especially having regard to the invidious policy which has been carried out over many years in favour of agriculture as contrasted with—I do not say "at the expense of"—the fishing industry? Will my right hon. Friend issue a White Paper indicating what his constructive policy is for the benefit of the fishing industry in order to prevent Britain from suffering from a fish famine?
I hope that the Answer that I have just given on the aspect of fishing about which my hon. and learned Friend is presently concerned will give him a certain amount of encouragement. Instead of asking me for a White Paper, I hope that he will dedicate himself to making a speech in the Scottish Grand Committee tomorrow, when this subject will be discussed.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that at Ardtoe, Ardnamurchan, Argyll, where the White Fish Authority is building an experimental fish rearing station, there is a bit of excitement among the rural population? Will he take steps to encourage the Authority, especially its Chairman, to carry on with the good work it has started? The Authority held a public meeting last week to carry the population of that area with it. Although it is a small experiment, will he tell the Authority that Scottish Members on both sides of the House are 100 per cent. behind the experiment?
Yes, I think that my hon. Friend is right. There is considerable excitement about the experiment at Ardtoe, Ardnamurchan. As to the benefits of the west, let us say that these are not due to any Government of one complexion or another, but, rather, to the work of nature. It is an accident of the sea and of geography that there are more sea lochs on the west coast than on the east.