§ 10.0 p.m.
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Christopher Soames)
I beg to move,That the White Fish and Herring Industries (Grants for Fishing Vessels, Engines, and Conversions) (Amendment) Scheme, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 2nd November, be approved.I touched on this matter in the debate which has just concluded. If I may refresh the minds of hon. Members, when the grants for the building of certain fishing vessels were given in 1953, they were not given for distant water vessels. To maintain fairness and equity within the trawling industry, it was decided that vessels built with this grant should not be permitted to make more than a stated number of fishing voyages to distant waters. It was decided that no vessel could make more than two voyages or, with the express 322 permission of the White Fish Authority, three voyages.
If vessels made more than their quota of voyages within three years after they had been built with the aid of grant, the White Fish Authority had to claim from the owner the whole grant which he had received. If they exceeded their quota after three years from the date of building, the White Fish Authority had to claim back a proportion of the grant.
Since then, the situation has changed. To begin with, in the Bill which the House has today been considering, grants will be available for the building of vessels to fish in distant waters. There has been a growing appreciation of the difficult time which some of the middle water trawlers are having, especially around the Faroes, and it has been put to us both by the British Trawlers' Federation and also by the White Fish Authority that there should be an increase in the number of voyages that may be made by these grant-aided vessels to distant waters. That will be accomplished by Clause 27 of the Bill which we have just been discussing.
In view of the representations that were made to me, however, and also the many points made on this subject by hen. Members When discussing fishing subsidies in the debate in July, I felt that it would be the wish of the House that we should take steps to ensure that that restriction should be lifted now rather than wait for the passage of the Bill. The Scheme will entitle the White Fish Authority to waive the requirement to refund the whole or part of the grant.
If the House approves the Scheme, I will authorise the White Fish Authority to extend to five instead of the existing three the number of voyages permitted to distant waters. What is more, instead of the period during which voyages may be made being limited to between 1st March and 31st August, trawlers will be able to make these voyages at any time of the year. Where owners have a number of vessels, they will be able to transfer entitlements to voyages between their vessels, provided that they are over 105 feet in length and come from the same port. I know that this will be widely acceptable to the industry and I am confident that it will be acceptable to the House.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)
I shall not delay the House for more than a moment. I think that this is a very sensible Scheme. I am glad that the Minister has taken the steps he has taken. I am certain that they will be welcomed by the industry.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The Minister has given a fair explanation of this Scheme, but would he say in what circumstances the waiver will take place, in what circumstances discretion will be exercised?
§ Mr. Soames
As soon as this Scheme is passed I shall put it to the White Fish Authority that it should not make any claim on these vessels up to five voyages instead of the present three.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the White Fish and Herring Industries (Grants for Fishing Vessels, Engines, and Conversions) (Amendment) Scheme, 1961, a copy of which was laid before this House on 2nd November, be approved.