§ Mr. Curry
The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) says that I do not know what it is, and I confirm his impression. However, I will take steps to find out very quickly. If the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) would like to forward any particular evidence to me, I will examine it as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Macdonald
I add my personal welcome to the Minister with his new responsibilities and I hope that he will be a wee bit more sympathetic than his predecessor was to some of our concerns. When he next meets the chairman of the Sea Fish Industry Authority, will he discuss with him, and with the Department of Agriculture 1164 and Fisheries for Scotland, the need closely to monitor nephrops stocks in the Minch fisheries off the north-west coast of Scotland, where there is increasing pressure due to east coast fishermen coming over as a result of the quota cuts that they have suffered? Will the Minister undertake to monitor prawn stocks off the west coast and introduce quotas if necessary?
§ Dr. Godman
I, too, welcome the new Ministers to their posts. I only hope that we can maintain the civilised relationship that we experienced with their predecessors. In that regard, I offer my compliments in public to the hon. Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) for the many affable courtesies that he showed to me during his tenure of office.
When the Minister next meets the chairman of the Sea Fish Industry Authority, will he discuss with that gentleman the urgent need to introduce a sensible decommissioning scheme? Does he agree that many middle-aged fishermen around the British coastline would happily and willingly tie up their middle-aged or elderly vessels for the last time if such a scheme were in operation? Is it not the case that, with regard to European Community obligations vis-a-vis the multi-annual guidance programme, the United Kingdom fishing fleet has to shed some 600 to 800 fishing vessels? How will that be brought about in the absence of a sensible decommissioning scheme?
§ Mr. Curry
I echo the hon. Gentleman's remarks about my hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson), who I thought was an excellent Minister and responsible for many personal kindnesses to hon. Members.
Decommissioning is a somewhat less easy matter than the hon. Gentleman seems to suggest. It is one of the options that I am now reviewing. The hon. Gentleman is right that the multi-annual guidance programme sets Community targets to apply by 1991. He will be aware, however, that since that target was set two years ago there has been a significant expansion in the fishing fleet. That has been done with public money. I am therefore bound to pay careful attention to whether I wish to decommission with public money a fleet that was built up with public money. However, it is one of the matters that I shall certainly discuss with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I am aware of the importance of the issue.