Orders of the Day — White Fish Authority (Publicity Scheme)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th March 1970.

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Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Aberdeen South 12:00 am, 10th March 1970

I was interested to hear the Minister say, and it is a nice euphemism, that the scheme had been received with more enthusiasm in certain quarters than in others. One thing seems clear; that there is a striking lack of agreement about the worth of this venture.

There has been a lack of harmony over this matter which I find alarming. While it is true, as we have been told on a number of occasions, that the port wholsale fish merchants are opposed to the scheme—one might say that they are bitterly opposed to it—opposition is not confined to that side of the trade.

The hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) was rather cautious when he described, for example, the Scottish Trawler Federation as taking up a position of neutrality. I have received some strong representations on the subject. Perhaps unlike the B.T.F., the members of the S.T.F. object absolutely to the scheme and join with the wholesalers in their general attitude towards it. I have no doubt that hon. Gentlemen opposite will say that Scottish inshore white fish producers are in exactly the same position. It is clear that in Scotland opposition to this proposal runs deep and wide and cuts right across the entire fishing industry.

There appear to be a number of reasons for this. There is, for example, a general scepticism about the possibility of the scheme being successful. Reference has been made to the amount that is likely to be collected and whether it will be an adequate basis for launching a project of this sort. I am advised that there have been successful generic product campaigns—that for milk is an example—but there are some who believe that after an initial spurt in demand there is in the long-term little to be gained from an advertising campaign of this sort.

There is an underlying lack of confidence in the White Fish Authority, an organisation which enjoys a measure of disrespect in certain quarters which I find disquieting. There is, I believe, a future for the Authority, but I endorse the need for a look at its standing in the industry and the scale of its future operations.