Fishing Limits

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5 August 1976.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover 12:00, 5 August 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further representations he intends to make to the EEC on the question of a 50-mile British-only fishing zone.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

The future of the common fisheries policy is one of the most urgent and important issues in the Community, and the Government will continue to press for arrangements which meet the needs of our fishing industry.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

That is a bit general. After three years of membership of the Common Market, in which those who are our enemies inside Europe have bled British workers white, does not my right hon. Friend consider it high time that the Common Market was told in no uncertain terms that it is time we were able to get at least this 50-mile fishing zone? Would my right hon. Friend also care to comment on the suggestion which has now been raised that the 200-mile zone that is being discussed will not be only a fishing zone and that there are those inside the Common Market who have their greedy eyes on North Sea oil and will interpret the fishing zone as an economic zone?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I think that that was a very general question as well. I cannot accept this. I agree that it is important that we push forward with negotiations. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has been conducting negotiations. Indeed, the Minister of State has already announced a broad policy to the House.

Photo of Mr Hamish Watt Mr Hamish Watt , Banffshire

Does the Minister realise that the biggest problem facing the fishing industry is over-fishing by foreign boats? Will he tell the House the arrangements that are to be made to patrol and police the 50-mile limit—if that is the limit we get—and who will be in charge of the patrolling of the 200-mile economic zone?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

These matters are under discussion and negotiation. I cannot reveal the Government's negotiating stance at this stage. Conservation and policing are important matters, and I agree with the hon. Gentleman that they will have to be studied.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull Central

My right hon. Friend will be aware that a Bill to extend fishing limits to 200 miles has been introduced in the Faroese Parliament. The Faroes are part of the EEC. Why are the Faroese able to take that unilateral action when we are unable to do so? What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the Faroese and the Danes about the effect upon the British fishing industry, and on the Scottish industry in particular, of this proposal to push out to 200 miles?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I am aware of that. My hon. Friend must know about the Council decision from the Community on the 200-mile limit, and we are ready to take action on this.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Warren Mr Kenneth Warren , Hastings

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he will come back from the negotiations with a minimum of a 12-mile limit available only for British fishermen off the South Coast? Otherwise those men will be on the dole.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I do not conduct negotiations in Europe. That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. He represents an important fishing constituency and is anxious to see that our interests are protected. I note carefully what the hon. Gentleman said.