§ 3. Mrs. Braddock
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has observed the landings of fish by British trawlers from Icelandic waters in January and February, 1953, in comparison to the same months in 1952; and, in view of the fact that they show the wisdom of the Icelandic Government's action in conservation of fish by increasing the fishing area limits to protect the breeding grounds, what action he is taking to come to an agreement with the Icelandic Government.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
I am aware of the figures for fish landings from Icelandic waters in January and February, 1953. We are still awaiting a definite reply from the Icelandic Government to the proposals made by Her Majesty's Government. Until that 181 reply is received, I am not in a position to make any statement about a possible settlement of the dispute.
Meanwhile Her Majesty's Government have arranged to include in the agenda of the Permanent Commission set up under the Overfishing Convention a proposal that the Permanent Commission should study whether measures additional to those for which the Convention specifically provides are desirable for the proper conservation of fish stocks in the neighbourhood of Iceland.
§ Mr. Nutting
We have made a proposal to the Government of Iceland; we made it some weeks ago and we still await their reply. They have asked for an elucidation of the proposal, which they have received, but it has not so far proved possible to obtain a final and definite answer from the Icelandic Government.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
Does the hon. Gentleman remember I have been asking him Questions on this subject for a long time? Does he realise that in the interests of the fishing industry and consumers alike the time is long overdue for him to take a new initiative in this matter and resolve the outstanding problems?
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. and learned Member should not assume that I ever forget any of his Questions.
§ Mr. Younger
While appreciating that a settlement is not entirely within the control of Her Majesty's Government, might I ask the hon. Gentleman if it is the view of the Government that the continued exclusion of Iceland fish from this country—not of course by Government action—accords with the spirit of the Government's trading policy in Europe? If the answer to that is in the negative, may I further ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is content to leave this matter month after month without any expression of opinion in public in this country as to what view the Government have? Does he not think it is 182 almost getting time now for the Government to take some line or other on the merits of this dispute?
§ Mr. Nutting
We very much hope that we shall be able to arrive at a reasonable and fair solution of this problem, which —I agree with the whole House—has dragged on for a considerable time. In the meantime, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the action of certain industrial organisations which, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, is in no way in conflict with Government policy regarding trade in Europe.