Fishing (Safety)

Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 24th June 1999.

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Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party 2:30 pm, 24th June 1999

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it has plans to introduce a distinct scheme to promote safety improvements in the Scottish fleet in view of the termination of the Fishing Vessel (Safety Improvements) (Grants) Scheme 1995 (S.I.1995/1609), and given the special circumstances of the Scottish fishing industry. (S1O-66)

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

We recognise the critical importance of safety issues for the Scottish fishing fleet. Revised European legislation under the financial instrument for fisheries guidance, which is under discussion, will include consultation with industry. We will examine the case for a separate Scottish scheme in the light of developments in the UK and of new European legislation.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

Does the minister agree that it is ludicrous and incredibly unacceptable that the safety of our fishermen depends upon property deals in London? The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food failed to sell Covent Garden, so the deficit that was left led to the current fisheries grant scheme drying up.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

We should focus on our own responsibilities in this Parliament. Mr Lochhead will understand that maritime safety is a reserved responsibility.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, who has overall responsibility in this area, announced that a fishing vessel safety scheme is to be reinstated. We are awaiting further details and will take a special interest in the implications of any new scheme for the Scottish fleet.

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

I put it to the minister that, as the scheme is having a shake-up, this is an opportune time for the Scottish Executive to take responsibility both for funding the scheme and for administering it in Scotland.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson Labour

Mr Lochhead is missing the point. Maritime safety is a reserved responsibility of the Westminster Parliament. We will keep in touch with our colleagues in Westminster to ensure that Scottish interests are protected.