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Leaving the EU: Fishing

Volume 644: debated on Wednesday 11 July 2018

3. What assessment he has made of the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU. (906299)

7. What assessment he has made of the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU. (906303)

13. What assessment he has made of the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU. (906311)

I am proud to say that this Conservative Government are unequivocally taking Scotland’s fishermen out of the hated common fisheries policy. Just last week, the UK Government published their fisheries White Paper, which sets out that as an independent coastal state, we will at long last regain control of our waters.

Does the Secretary of State know whether the Scottish Government are supporting the central aims of that fisheries White Paper—namely that we leave the CFP; that we decide who catches what, where and when; that we manage the expansion of our industry in a sustainable way; and that we are not blackmailed by Brussels for our market—or does the SNP want to keep us in the hated CFP?

Hopelessly long. I have already said that we need to speed up. The trouble is that people have these pre-prepared, scripted questions—[Interruption.] Well, the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross) has learned it, and we are grateful to him.

Sadly, the Scottish Government’s position remains exactly as it has been throughout: to take Scotland back into the CFP.

Last week’s publication of the fisheries White Paper was a hugely welcome step for an industry that is looking to capitalise on the benefits of leaving the EU. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, during the exit negotiations with the EU, this Government will keep the issues of access to British waters for EU vessels and access to the EU market for British fish separate, as they must not be conflated?

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it will take many years to build the Scottish fishing fleet back up to full strength, but that that would never happen if the SNP got its way and kept us in the common fisheries policy?

Absolutely, and we can see that in the response of the fishing industry. This Government are right behind the fishing industry in taking advantage of what it sees as a sea of opportunity.

11. Fifty per cent. of the fish processing industry relies on an EU workforce. What protection has the Secretary of State negotiated within the Cabinet to secure their future post-Brexit? (906309)

The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) has secured a very apposite debate on that matter this evening. I am very conscious of this issue, and I will be meeting the Home Secretary next week.

12. The White Paper refers to the seafood trade as “vital” but, as with EU workers, no information is given about how it will be protected. This will be of concern to the live shellfish industry in Orkney and Shetland, which enjoys a frictionless customs passage in the EU at the moment. Will the Secretary of State guarantee that that frictionless passage will continue? (906310)

I am very conscious of the issues around not just catching and processing fish, but the markets, and those will be at the forefront of our thinking as we take forward leaving the EU.

Will my right hon. Friend tell me what benefits there will be from leaving the common fisheries policies for the whole of the United Kingdom?

Mr Speaker, you have asked me to be brief, so I will refer my hon. Friend to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation document “Sea of Opportunity”.

I do not know what the Secretary of State plans to be doing at 7 o’clock this evening, but I shall be here, along with the Immigration Minister, for the end-of-day Adjournment debate on the subject of visas for non-EEA nationals in the fishing industry. If he could fix that and get the industry the labour that it needs between now and 7 pm, we could both probably think of something else to be doing.

I am afraid that I cannot meet the right hon. Gentleman’s timescale but, like him and others, I wish England well in their game this evening. On the substantive issue that he raises, I would be very happy to speak to him directly ahead of my meeting with the Home Secretary.