My Departments, which are in close touch with the Department of Trade and Industry and the interests concerned, are consulted about the fisheries implications before exploratory or development work is carried out off the Scottish coast. They have also promoted direct liaison between the licensed developers and the fishing industry.
But will my right hon. Friend accept that, vital as the oil industry will be to the North-East, the fishing industry will still be there when the oil industry is gone? There is concern that the fishing industry may get the short end of the stick vis-à-vis the big guns of the oil industry. What the fishing industry in Aberdeen wants is the fullest and earliest consultation with my right hon. Friend to put its side of the case.
I am very much aware of this question, and I have referred to it publicly on a number of occasions, including the North Sea oil forum at Aviemore earlier this year. I am aware of my hon. Friend's continuing concern about this important matter. I believe that the two industries should get together to work in harmony. There is no reason why they should not both carry out their operations without conflict with each other.
Important developments in the fisheries harbour at Aberdeen have been postponed for at least five years to provide facilities for North Sea oil. Does not this mean that priorities are getting out of kelter? What action will the right hon. Gentleman take?
I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman said. Recently, the Government announced a loan to assist port development at Aberdeen. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) that there is a lot to be done so that these two industries can work out together how they can operate in harmony.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is something new to the people of the area and that there is no limit to the amount he can do to help encourage co-operation between these two industries and others concerned?