I have had no discussions about this with the Danish Government. But, as my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland stated in another place on 5th July, the British representative at a meeting in Canada in June of the International North West Atlantic Fisheries Commission joined other delegates in asking the Danish authorities, through their representative at the meeting, to consider whether means could be found for preventing any further expansion of salmon catches off Greenland, pending the results of further scientific investigations. Her Majesty's Ambasador at Copenhagen recently repeated the request to the Danish Government and asked what action they are proposing to take in response to it.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has this matter very much in mind. I understand that insufficient scientific information is available to show what effect the catches off Greenland will have on our own salmon stocks but that further scientific investigations are in train, including a joint Anglo-Danish programme due to start next month for tagging salmon off Greenland. The Danish authorities are being most co-operative in this connection.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the catch now amounts to some 2,000 tons and that no amount of investigation will replace these fish? This is an absolutely vital matter for the whole economy of the North of Scotland. Negotiations now are more necessary than investigations.
Apart from the Secretary of State for Scotland having this matter very much in mind, would the hon. Gentleman say whether the amendment on mesh sizes put before the Commission by the United Kingdom will be supported by other Governments, and, if not, what are Her Majesty's Government doing about it?
The Minister said that there have been no discussions with the Danish Government about this very important matter. Is he not ashamed to confess that there have been no discussions? Will he undertake discussions at once because this matter is of very great importance to one of Scotland's leading industries, and will he see that it is properly protected?
Following the discussions in Canada, Her Majesty's Ambassador in Copenhagen made representations to the Danish Government. We are now awaiting their response. In the meantime, this scientific exercise—the tagging of salmon—is taking place with the full co-operation of the Danish authorities.