asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he is taking, following his meeting with a deputation of Scottish Members, to help the fishing industry, in view of the increase in freight charges and reduction in facilities of rail transport.
As a result of the meeting of Scottish Members with the Minister of State and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, the views then expressed were drawn to the attention of the Railways Board. I now understand that the Board has deferred changes in transport arrangements, though not in charges, for three months to enable the industry to review its transport and marketing arrangements. I understand that my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport has now written to the Members of the deputation.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that one of the undertakings given was that inspectors from the Scottish Department of Agriculture would help fishermen to overcome their problems? Does he know that, although the meeting took place six weeks ago, up to 11 o'clock this morning no inspectors have visited the port of Gourdon? Is he really concerned about the problems of these fishermen, particularly in the smaller places where there is great difficulty in co-ordinating facilities?
I assure the hon. Gentleman that my Department is very much concerned and has been able over the years to give considerable help to fishermen in these problems. But it is a difficult point, and the hon. Gentleman himself knows some of the reasons. There is the question of, in many cases, putting certain bulk loads on to road transport and leaving the railways with very much smaller loads to other areas. It is not an easy one to settle, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that, as far as possible, my Department of Agriculture will help. I do not know the reason why no one has been to the particular port the hon. Gentleman mentioned. I shall make inquiries, but I have no doubt that I shall find that my officers were in some other port with equally pressing problems.