North Sea Herring

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th December 1984.

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Photo of Mr Albert McQuarrie Mr Albert McQuarrie , Banff and Buchan 12:00 am, 6th December 1984

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in negotiations between the European Economic Community and Norway on the shareout of the herring stock in the North sea.

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

Negotiations between the Community and Norway on the arrangements for 1985 under the EC-Norway fisheries framework agreement are continuing. While there has been some progress, no agreement has so far been reached on the respective allocations to the Community and to Norway for herring in the North sea.

Photo of Mr Albert McQuarrie Mr Albert McQuarrie , Banff and Buchan

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that informative reply. Will he assure the House that when the negotiations continue on 11 and 12 December in Oslo he will ensure that, if there is any question of an agreement being reached on herring stocks in particular, he will safeguard the interests of the British fleet in order to ensure that total allowable catches are not reduced?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I can assure him that at the Council meeting on Tuesday this week the Council insisted on maintaining the Commission's firm line on negotiations on Norway's herring demands, which we regard as unreasonable. That was the position that we took. It is better to delay rather than rush negotiations in order to arrive at an acceptable conclusion.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

While the Minister is dealing with fisheries agreements between the EEC and other maritime nations, will he tell us whether it is true that one of the major remaining stumbling blocks in the current continuing negotiations between Spain and the EEC is a fisheries agreement? What concessions are likely to be made by the EEC to Spain over fisheries, and what concessions will the EEC demand of Spain in the negotiations?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

The hon. Gentleman will have seen that agreement was reached at the Council this week on the negotiating position that the Community should take in relation to fisheries and enlargement. The Community is taking a firm line to protect British fishery interests. It would obviously be unwise to reveal the entire negotiating position, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the decisions reached this week at the summit were satisfactory to us.

Mr. Mark Hughes:

Will the Minister accept that it might have been to the convenience of the House if he had answered written question No. 122 today in the name of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. McQuarrie) on the outcome of the meeting of the Council on this question rather than try to hide it away in a written answer?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I would have much preferred to answer it now, but it is a lengthy answer which will be given later this afternoon. However, I accept the hon. Gentleman's point and wish that it could have been taken into account today.