ANGER AS COALITION CANCEL ANNUAL FISHERIES DEBATE Published: 16 November, 2010
Dr Eilidh Whiteford
SNP Westminster Fisheries spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has reacted angrily to the revelation that the Conservative/Lib Dem Government has decided not to allow time for a debate on the fishing industry in advance of the Fisheries Council negotiations in December.
The debate has been an annual feature at Westminster for many years with MPs representing fishing communities using the opportunity to put forward industry and constituents views to the UK Fisheries Minister in advance of the Fisheries Council. Dr Whiteford has taken the case for a Fisheries Debate to the Backbench Business Committee and has asked that time be made available for a debate should the UK Government continue to refuse to do so. The Banff and Buchan MP has also written in strong terms to Tory Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon urging a rethink. Commenting, Dr Whiteford said: This decision by the ConDem government suggests nothing has changed since the days of Edward Heaths Tories when Scottish fishing was described as expendable in a Government memo. Fisheries is subject to one of the highest degrees of political management of any industry and it is therefore vital that MPs representing fishing communities continue to have the opportunity to put forward their views to the Minister in a debate on the floor of the House of Commons. I have therefore written to the Fisheries Minister urging him to reinstate the annual fisheries debate. I have also taken the precaution of lobbying the Backbench Business Committee asking for time to be made available to discuss this issue of vital importance to the Scottish economy. However, this episode simply underlines why we need effective Scottish representation at Europes top table. If the UK Government cannot even be bothered to find time to discuss fishing, what sort of message does that send to the EU about how fishing is viewed by the UK?