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Mr. Morley: The suggestions from the industry and the Committees were helpful. The action that the fishermen are taking has helped in our discussions to get an increase in the haddock quota. I shall be pressing these matters on the Commission in relation to the calculations that it undertakes.

Mr. Doran: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. This is another example of the industry and Government working in co-operation. We are moving towards a real partnership.

In my constituency, the Aberdeen Fish Curers and Fish Merchants Association has developed an environmental policy, which is a radical step for the industry. A collection of small businesses sees its interests in developing and being part of a process of procuring a sustainable industry in the North sea. The future of these businesses depends on the sustainability of stocks in the North sea. They do not like a rollercoaster. Like me,

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they believe that the only way forward is to develop stability in our stocks through a sustainable fishing policy, which takes into account the social and economic aspects of the industry together with the biological aspects. Scientific evidence is important, but it is only part of other elements in reaching a solution.

We need to recognise the importance of the individual fisherman and processor. Year in and year out, we askthe fishing industry and individuals within it to make sacrifices. We cannot ask fishermen to catch fewer fish if they are not to be part of the future of their own industry. That must be a key part of future policy.

It is also important to recognise that environmental groups are focusing more and more on the industry. I know that all of us who are interested in the industry have been lobbied recently by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is beginning to take an interest in it. That is important in terms of the pressure that it will apply to the industry.

I shall speak briefly about the contribution that can be made by public authorities, especially local authorities. In my city of Aberdeen, Aberdeen city council and Aberdeenshire council, the neighbouring local authority, established a fisheries summit two years ago. They brought together every group in the city that had an interest in the fishing industry, and hammered out the matters on which local authorities could help the industry to make progress. That has resulted in many improvements in the way in which issues are tackled locally. Grampian Enterprise is involved and has a better view of the effect of employment in the fishing industry on our area. However, the most significant step forward is the involvement of Aberdeen city council in responding to the major problem that the industry faces throughout Britain: the likelihood of increased water charges through the waste water directive.

Aberdeen city council has decided to construct a waste water treatment plant which the council, Grampian Enterprise and the industry will fund. It will protect my local fish processors from the huge increase in waste water charges. That is a significant local solution to a national problem. I hope that when my hon. Friend the Minister considers policy on the industry, he will take into account the important contribution that local government can make.

I conclude by making a point that has not been mentioned because it is not strictly relevant to today's debate. We have heard much recently about the beef war between Britain and France, and the Conservative party's call for a trade war. My local fishing industry depends greatly on our exports, especially to France but also to Spain. My office is opposite the Aberdeen fish market. Every day, I can see from my office the lorries leaving for France. My fishing industry would be devastated by a war with France over beef. I hope that the Government will never countenance it.

6.12 pm

Sir Edward Heath (Old Bexley and Sidcup): I am grateful for the opportunity to make a brief speech. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will realise that all too little time has been allocated for debate on such an important subject.

I was born by the sea, and I lived by the sea for more than 50 years. I swam and fished in the sea when I was a kid; later, I won the national record for the amount of cod

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caught in a single day--146 lbs 13 oz. Therefore, I have some experience of the matters that we are discussing. I have travelled all over the world, and sailed and raced in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Pacific. Wherever I have travelled, I have talked to fishermen, who have been immensely helpful to us at times. I understand their views and share their anxieties.

I want to look back to some original foundations. We can consider modern problems, but it is also important to look back to 1963 and 1964. Some people claim that the European Community created its fisheries policy in 1963 at the last moment to try to prevent us from becoming a member and to make matters as difficult as it could for us. That is a complete falsehood. The Community's fisheries policy was first discussed by the French in 1963, and they continued to discuss it, to try to resolve problemsand create a policy until 1969. A general review of Community policy, including fisheries policy, then took place and it was decided to try to settle the policy by spring 1970. The Community did not succeed in that, and the policy was finally settled in December 1970. We took part in the discussions that followed, and the Community knew our position perfectly well.

There is an answer to those who claim that we sold out to the Community or to the French: we got the decision for which we asked. We asked for the 12-mile arrangement--six miles plus six--and to stick to the arrangements that had existed since the relevant legislation came into force.

Mr. Nicholls: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Sir Edward Heath: No. I am sorry, but I shall not give way because there is no time to do so.

We got the decision that we wanted at the time. It was to last for 10 years, and it was then renewed for 20 years. It will be discussed and possibly re-created in 2002. That policy, which suited us, has remained in operation.

I want to consider deep-sea fishing. At the time, there was a great difference between our deep-sea fishermen and other fishermen. That point is often overlooked nowadays. The coastal fishermen were in the minority. It is also forgotten that when the Conservative Government came to office in 1970, we were at war with Iceland over deep-sea fishing. We had to send warships to protect our fishermen. We got a settlement on political grounds, which hardly changed our landing of fish--I do not know whether the Icelanders ever realised that. However, for four years after that, we were still in the 900,000 series. We did not lose out over that, but we lost our deep-sea fishing industry.

I tried to resolve that by asking the Minister of Agriculture to organise a search for other parts of the world that we could recommend to our deep-sea fishermen. We quickly discovered that the coast of Africa was useless because it was largely monopolised by the Russians. We went to the coast off South America, where excellent opportunities were found. They were put to our fishing organisations. It was reported that, when landed, the deep-sea fish looked awful but tasted delicious. We passed around the information but it was never used, and very few fishermen fish off the coast of Latin America. The change in the balance happened then, and it affected the matters that we have discussed today and in the past.

The arrangements that exist today were not accepted in my time because they were not necessary, but Mrs. Thatcher accepted them when she was Prime

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Minister and said that they were necessary. I agreed with her; they were the right measures. We must protect the industry by limiting catches--there can be no doubt about it. Unless one is prepared to face up to that, we shall get nowhere. That is why the Government are right--even if they have changed their minds--to pursue the policy thoroughly. I hoped that my party would agree with that. However, the Conservative amendment leads one to conclude that the party wants us to leave the Community. If we accepted the amendment, we would demand to be outside any Community fishing policy. The Community would not accept that, not for a moment.

Mr. Nicholls: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Sir Edward Heath: No, I am sorry.

The Community would not accept that for a moment and we would be forced to give way or get out. I want my fellow Members to realise that. We have to be realistic: that is the situation, so there is no point in tabling such amendments because they are entirely unrealistic and completely ineffective.

We are in a situation in which it is absolutely right to have limits, and if hon. Members look at our figures they will see that we have done very well--much better than most. I am not complaining about that in the least--it has been achieved by the proper means--but, looking to the future, we have to appreciate the situation fully, reach agreements and accept and operate them. If the fishermen have that explained to them, they will understand it perfectly well. I have talked to them on many occasions, and whenever I send them a letter explaining something I never receive a counter-answer saying, "Oh, we can't accept that" or "You're wrong." It is obvious to me that when they analyse an issue they recognise the real facts and the action required to deal with them. That is why I hope that we shall give them encouragement from the House today.


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