I accept the right hon. Gentleman's view that it is impossible to come to a conclusion in advance of the final negotiations on the common fisheries policy. However, does he accept that there is great uncertainty in the industry about its future structure and building plans? Will he give some indication of the programme that he envisages for the renegotiation of the CFP? When does he expect that to come to some conclusion that will enable the industry to undertake proper long-term planning?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to be categorical about the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. Progress in the negotiations on the common fisheries policy has been disappointingly slow, as he knows. However, we are not leaving consideration of the structure of the industry to a final conclusion of the CFP. We are considering the proposals of a catching industry working group which was chaired by the White Fish Authority and which has recently sent proposals to the Government.
The defects giving rise to the charges in the case were identified while the machinery in question was being tested in the course of installation. The court held that, in the circumstances, the machinery was not being used within the meaning of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974. Accordingly no offences had occurred.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend express concern about that decision? Is not the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act designed to improve and maintain safety? Is not the Lord Advocate worried that such a decision may breach the absolute provisions of section 14 of the Factories Act 1961? Has he any recommendations to make to the Health and Safety Commission to see that this possible loophope is stopped up and to ensure that existing safety standards are maintained?
I agree that it is a matter of concern to discover that this section does not appear to apply to the particular case. My view is that the import of machinery which does not comply with United Kingdom safety standards should be deplored.
The case puts in question whether our safety legislation should be strengthened to prevent such machinery from being imported, sold or installed. I shall draw this matter to the attention of my ministerial colleagues.