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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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LOCAL MP’s ANGER OVER TORY WESTMINSTER FISHERIES SNUB

Monday, 15 November 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has reacted with anger to the revelation that the Conservative/Lib Dem London Government have 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 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 SNP MP has also written in strong terms to Tory Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon urging a rethink.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This decision by the London Government sends a clear message that nothing much has changed since the days of Edward Heath’s Tories when 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 Richard Benyon 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 North-east economy.

“However, this episode simply underlines why we need effective Scottish representation at Europe’s 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?”

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