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Scotprime Sea Foods Ltd.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:18 pm on 4th March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire 10:18 pm, 4th March 1993

We need quick redress, and that is what we intend to get from the French Government. I am sure that hon. Members will agree with that. If that were not to happen, we might need to have recourse to the European institutions, but I hope that the French Government will ensure the safe passage of our exports.

My hon. Friend mentioned compensation. Companies affected by the disturbance in Paris who wish to seek compensation should write initially to the local police at Rungis to seek a police statement of the incident. This can then be followed up with claims to the local prefecture. My officials of the Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department at Pentland house in Edinburgh would be happy to provide details and advice to Scottish businesses which believe they have a claim to compensation. Similar arrangements apply regarding the trouble at Roscoff.

I know that many companies have been disappointed that they have not received compensation for losses incurred during the strike by French lorry drivers last year to which my hon. Friend referred, but initial soundings with the French Government suggest that it may be easier to obtain compensation over the recent incidents.

My hon. Friend expressed particular concern about the destruction of a consignment of fish from Scotprime Sea Foods at the Rungis market in Paris. I know that Scotprime has an excellent record in exporting Scottish produce. This was recognised last year by its receiving the Queen's award for export achievement. That was a fine performance by a company in Ayrshire which was established only a few years ago.

I appreciate that exports to France, and through France, are of particular importance to Scotprime. The recent actions of French fishermen are a problem that the company should not have to face, and must be particularly unwelcome after last year's difficulties during the French lorry drivers' strike. Although I know that efforts are still being made by various organisations to secure compensation for losses incurred during that strike, regrettably such efforts have been unsuccessful so far.

In the few minutes that remain, may I bring the House up to date? Unquestionably, the situation in France continues to cause grave concern. As was mentioned earlier in the debate, there was a further incident last night at Cherbourg. Early reports suggest that the fish involved had been landed into Scotland by French fishermen and were being transported to France by an English company. French fishermen were therefore destroying fish which had been caught against their own quota. The value of the fish has been estimated at £55,000. Some French fishermen seem to be totally out of control, and the French Government must act to restore order.

Scottish industry has an enviable record in exporting to Europe. Fishing is no exception. Indeed, fishing and fish farming are not only in a dominant position within the United Kingdom but are recognised as major players in the European scene. I hope that Scottish businesses will continue to take the initiative in exporting fish to the French market. I congratulate my hon. Friend and give him the assurance that the Government will do everything possible to protect their right to do so.