Is my right hon. Friend aware that fishermen in my constituency feel that they are facing constant battles over net sizes, over-fishing and the exploration activities of oil companies and pollution? Is he aware that the Wessex water authority wishes to site a sewage outfall in Christchurch Bay? Will he give fishermen in my constituency, and fishermen around the country, the assurance that they will be consulted not only by his Department but by others before decisions are taken which adversely affect their lives?
Yes, Sir. I know that mesh sizes have caused problems in the industry. We met representatives of every type of fisherman in the country, including representatives of fishermen in my hon. Friend's constituency. They considered that our policy was right. I am aware of the specific problems that my hon. Friend has experienced over oil pollution. Again, the Department acted speedily on that matter, to the benefit of his fishermen.
I certainly give an assurance that we shall look into the problems connected with the fishermen. I recognise the importance of this fishery to the fishermen concerned. We shall look into this matter and discuss it with the right hon. Gentleman before making any decisions.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that fishermen are looking to the Government to maintain the same robust attitude as that shown by the Minister of Agriculture in the previous Administration? Failing agreement on fishing, the answer is for the Government to take unilateral action.
Yes, Sir. That is why we took unilateral action on conservation on 1 July. There is no disagreement between the parties. The right hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Silkin), who was the Minister in the previous Administration, said that it was a great help to him in his negotiations to have the whole of Parliament united on this issue. I believe that the whole of Parliament remains united on this issue.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the only matter dominating the minds of the deepsea fishing fleet in Hull is where it can fish? The right hon. Gentleman will know that we are barred from fishing in the North Atlantic. Can he put before Mr. Gundelach, or the House, any suggestion of where we can find outlets for fishing?
I recognise the real problem that has existed for the long-distance fishing fleet for some time. One of the reasons why we are anxious to reach a sensible and acceptable agreement is that this could open third areas, with the Common Market, to the benefit of our fishermen. It is important to get a basic agreement that makes sense for our fishing industry.
Is it not likely that there will be a Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting during the recess and that this is probably the last opportunity for the Minister to give the House the assurance that it wants? Will he assure the House that he will fight for conservation and proper adequate resources for protection, and that he will try to obtain the fair share that we want in the Common Market pool, the 12-mile exclusive zone, so that we can get dominant preference in the 12- to 50-mile belt?
I can give the assurance that the principles that I have related to the House stand firmly as the principles that we want to achieve in a fishing agreement. We shall do all that we can to achieve them. It will be difficult to reach such an agreement, but we are totally united on both sides of the House. It is essential to the fishermen that we reach agreement.