§ 2. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he now proposes to take in order to restore confidence in the herring industry.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. A. Stodart)
Over the last two or three years the financial results of herring catching have been reasonably good for most of the boats concerned, the majority of which are now able to choose between this and other forms of fishing as they see fit. It would seem, therefore, that there are good reasons why the fishermen should have confidence in their future. My right hon. Friend and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will shortly be laying before Parliament their proposals for fisheries subsidies for the coming subsidy year.
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
Is my hon. Friend aware that what has shaken confidence amongst the fishermen were the recent revelations by the Herring Industry Board? Will he give an assurance on two points: first, that the Government believe in, and will support, a prosperous, efficient and developing herring industry; and, secondly, that that industry will be efficiently administered in the future?
§ Mr. Stodart
I am, of course, aware that the herring fishermen have been extremely critical of the Board's mistake over the price of surplus herring in Stornoway last winter, but we must keep a sense of proportion. A mistake was made, but there is no indication that it was more than an isolated one. The Board has done its best to rectify the 376 mistake and has offered to meet the fishermen's representatives regularly and to consider any suggestions they may have to make. I would affirm that the Government are anxious to see a prosperous herring industry.
§ Mr. Rankin
In order to assist that prosperous herring industry, can the hon. Gentleman tell me why the herring is becoming such a scarce commodity for the Scottish housewives?
§ Mr. Stodart
The herring is by no means scarce, if the housewife wishes to buy it. It is a cheap and excellent food, and if only people would eat more than one herring a month the whole future of the industry would be assured.