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House of Commons Hansard
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Fisheries Bill (Eighth sitting)
13 December 2018

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairs: James Gray, � David Hanson, Mr Laurence Robertson Sir David Crausby

� Aldous, Peter (Waveney) (Con)

� Brown, Alan (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)

� Carmichael, Mr Alistair (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)

� Debbonaire, Thangam (Bristol West) (Lab)

� Duguid, David (Banff and Buchan) (Con)

� Eustice, George (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

� Grant, Bill (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock) (Con)

� Hill, Mike (Hartlepool) (Lab)

� Hollinrake, Kevin (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)

Jones, Mr Marcus (Nuneaton) (Con)

� Lefroy, Jeremy (Stafford) (Con)

Morris, James (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con)

� O'Hara, Brendan (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)

Pennycook, Matthew (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab)

� Pollard, Luke (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Lab/Co-op)

� Smith, Owen (Pontypridd) (Lab)

� Stewart, Iain (Milton Keynes South) (Con)

� Sweeney, Mr Paul (Glasgow North East) (Lab/Co-op)

� Tracey, Craig (North Warwickshire) (Con)

Gail Poulton, Lis Gerhold, Committee Clerks

� attended the Committee

Public Bill Committee

Thursday 13 December 2018

(Afternoon)

[David Hanson in the Chair]

Fisheries Bill

Clause 15

Offences by bodies corporate etc

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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I can be relatively brief. The clause sets out the circumstances in which the officer of a body corporate, as well as the body corporate, may be found guilty of committing a relevant offence. These offences mirror those in section 12 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 and apply to all parts of the UK.

Clause 15(1) provides that an officer of a body corporate, as well as a body corporate, may be guilty of an offence where it is proved that the officer connived or consented to the offence or that the offence was attributable to the neglect of the officer. Subsection (3) provides for members of a body corporate to be treated as if they were directors, who fall under the definition of �officer�. That means that subsection (1) applies in relation to their acts and omissions in connection with their management of the body corporate. Subsection (4) is similar to subsection (1), but applies to a partner or person purporting to be a partner in a Scottish partnership.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 15 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 16

Jurisdiction of court to try offences

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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I can be even briefer on this clause, which simply provides that offences may be treated as having been committed in any place in the United Kingdom. That ensures that a prosecution could be brought in the appropriate UK court.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17

Consequential amendments

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I beg to move amendment 4, in clause�17,�page�9,�line�36,�leave out from �contains� to end of line 36 and insert�

�() in Part 1, consequential amendments relating to the provision made by sections 7 and 8;

() in Part 2�

(i) minor amendments relating to the licensing of fishing boats, and

(ii) consequential amendments relating to the provision made by sections 9 to16;

() in Part 3, transitional provision relating to the provision made by sections 9 to16.�

This amendment would ensure that Clause 17 accurately describes the contents of Schedule 3, if the proposed Government amendments to that Schedule are made.

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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause stand part.

Government amendments 7 to 9.

That schedule 3 be the Third schedule to the Bill.

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Government amendment 4 is simply a technical amendment to ensure that clause 17 accurately describes the contents of schedule 3, which makes consequential amendments to existing legislation. The relevant legislation is the Sea Fish Industry Act 1962, the Sea Fisheries Act 1968, the Fishery Limits Act 1976, designation orders made under that Act, and the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 and orders made under that Act.

Amendment 4 agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3

Access and licensing: consequential amendments

Amendments made: 7, in schedule 3, page 39, line 15, leave out from �(interpretation),� to end of line and insert�

�( ) in subsection (1), at the appropriate place, insert�

�British fishing boat� means a fishing boat�

(a) which is registered in the United Kingdom under Part 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995,

(b) which is British-owned, or

(c) which is registered under the law of Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man;�;

( ) in that subsection, in the definition of �sea fish�, omit �4,�;

( ) after subsection (1) insert�

�(1A) In any order or regulations made under this Act �foreign fishing boat� means (unless the contrary intention appears) a fishing boat which is not a British fishing boat.��

This amendment would ensure that the expressions �British fishing boat� and �foreign fishing boat� bear the same meaning in the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967, and subordinate legislation made under it, as they do the Bill.

Amendment 8, in schedule 3, page 39, line 19, at end insert�

�Fishery Limits Act 1976

5A In the Fishery Limits Act 1976, omit section 3 (which substitutes section 4 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967).

Fisheries Act 1981

5B In the Fisheries Act 1981, omit section 20 (which amends section 4 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967).

Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1992

5C In the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1992, omit section 1 (which amends section 4 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967).

Government of Wales Act 2006

5D (1) The Government of Wales Act 2006 is amended as follows.

(2) In Schedule 3A (functions of Ministers of Crown etc exercisable concurrently or jointly with Welsh Ministers)�

(a) in paragraph 1(2), in the table, in the entry for the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967, in column 2�

(i) omit �(a) section 4 (licensing of fishing boats), and�;

(ii) for �sections 4 and� substitute �section�;

(b) in paragraph 2(2)(b), omit sub-paragraph (i);

(c) in paragraph 2(3), omit �4 or�.

Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

5E (1) The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 4 (licensing of fishing boats)�

(a) omit subsections (1) to (6);

(b) in subsection (7), for �that section� substitute �section 4 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 (licensing of fishing boats)�.

(3) In section 7 (regulations supplementary to sections 4 and 4A of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967), omit �4 or�.

(4) In section 196 (charging for commercial fishing licences), omit subsection (1).

(5) Omit section 197 (grant of licences subject to conditions imposed for environmental purposes).

(6) In section 284 (power to require production of certain equipment), in subsection (2)(a), for �section 4(6) or� substitute �paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 to the Fisheries Act 2019 or section.�

This amendment would insert additional amendments in connection with the repeal of section 4 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 and its re-enactment in the Bill.

Amendment 9, in schedule 3, page 39, line 32, at end insert�

�Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) Regulations 1994

6A (1) The Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/2813) are amended as follows.

(2) In regulation 1 (citation, commencement and interpretation)�

(a) in the heading, after �commencement� insert �, application�;

(b) after paragraph (1) insert�

�(1A) These regulations apply in relation to�

(a) licences granted under section 10 of the Fisheries Act 2019 (licensing of British fishing boats) in respect of Welsh fishing boats;

(b) licences granted under section 12 of that Act (licensing of foreign fishing boats) by the Welsh Ministers; and

(c) licences granted under section 4A of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 (licensing of vessels receiving trans-shipped fish)�

(i) in respect of Welsh fishing boats, or

(ii) by the Welsh Ministers in respect of foreign fishing boats.�;

(c) in paragraph (2), for the definition of �licence� substitute�

��licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply (see regulation 1(1A));�;

(d) in paragraph (2), in the definition of �nominee�, in paragraph (b), for �in a member State and having a place of business� substitute �, and having a place of business,�;

(e) in paragraph (2), for the definition of �sea fishing licence� substitute�

��sea fishing licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply by virtue of regulation 1(1A)(a) or (b);�;

(f) in paragraph (2), at the end insert�

��Welsh fishing boat� means a fishing boat�

(a) which is registered in the United Kingdom under Part 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, and

(b) whose entry in the register specifies a port in Wales as the port to which the boat is to be treated as belonging.�

(3) In regulation 2 (communication of licences and notices)�

(a) in paragraph (1), in the opening words, for �a nominee� substitute �an appropriate recipient�;

(b) in paragraph (1), for sub-paragraph (d) substitute�

(d) subject to paragraph (6), transmitting it to the appropriate recipient by means of an electronic communication to an address which the appropriate recipient has specified in accordance with sub-paragraph (b) of that paragraph.�;

(c) for paragraph (2) substitute�

�(2) A notice shall be effected by communicating it to an appropriate recipient�

(a) in any of the ways specified in paragraph (1);

(b) by publishing it on a website, the address of which is indicated on the licence to which the notice relates; or

(c) in accordance with paragraph (3).�;

(d) after that paragraph insert�

�(2A) In this regulation, �an appropriate recipient� means�

(a) in relation to a licence or notice relating to a Welsh fishing boat�

(i) the owner or charterer of the fishing boat, or

(ii) a nominee of that owner or charterer; and

(b) in relation to a licence or notice relating to any other fishing boat, the owner or charterer of the fishing boat.�;

(e) in paragraph (3), in the closing words, omit �granted by the appropriate Minister,�;

(f) after paragraph (4) insert�

�(5) A notice, other than a notice published in accordance with paragraph (3), must�

(a) specify the name, port letters and number of the fishing boat named in the licence to which the notice relates, or

(b) in the case of a notice in respect of two or more licences, specify the name, port letters and number of the fishing boats named in the licences.

(6) A licence or notice may be communicated to a person by means of an electronic communication only if the following conditions are met�

(a) the use of the electronic communication results in the information contained in the licence or notice being available to the person in all material respects as it would appear in a licence or notice given in printed form, and

(b) the person has specified an address for the purpose of receiving such communications.�

(4) In regulation 3 (delivery of licences and giving of notices)�

(a) in paragraph (3), for �a nominee�s� substitute �an�;

(b) after paragraph (3) insert�

�(3A) A notice communicated in accordance with regulation 2(2)(b) (publication on website) shall be treated as given immediately it is published.�

(5) In regulation 4 (time at which licences and notices to have effect)�

(a) in paragraph (a) omit �, and a notice which is communicated in accordance with regulation 2(2)(b),�;

(b) in paragraph (b), omit the �and� at the end;

(c) after paragraph (b) insert�

�(ba) a notice which is communicated in accordance with regulation 2(2)(b) (publication on website) shall have effect 24 hours after it is treated as given in accordance with regulation 3; and�.

Scotland Act 1998 (Agency Arrangements) (Specification) Order 1999

6B (1) The Scotland Act (Agency Arrangements) (Specification) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1512) is amended as follows.

(2) In Schedule 1 (functions conferred on Minister of the Crown), omit paragraph 1.

(3) In Schedule 2 (functions exercisable by Scottish Ministers), omit paragraph 1.

Scotland Act 1998 (Concurrent Functions) Order 1999

6C (1) The Scotland Act 1998 (Concurrent Functions) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1592) is amended as follows.

(2) In Schedule 1�

(a) in column 1, omit the entry for section 4 of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967, and

(b) omit the corresponding entry in column 2.

Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (Scotland) Regulations 2011

6D (1) The Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (S.I. 2011/70) are amended as follows.

(2) In regulation 1 (citation, commencement, extent and application)�

(a) in paragraph (2), omit the words from �and the Scottish zone� to the end;

(b) for paragraph (3) substitute�

�(3) These regulations apply in relation to�

(a) licences granted under section 10 of the Fisheries Act 2019 (licensing of British fishing boats) in respect of Scottish fishing boats;

(b) licences granted under section 12 of that Act (licensing of foreign fishing boats) by the Scottish Ministers; and

(c) licences granted under section 4A of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 (licensing of vessels receiving trans-shipped fish)�

(i) in respect of Scottish fishing boats, or

(ii) by the Scottish Ministers in respect of foreign fishing boats.�

(3) In regulation 2 (interpretation)�

(a) for the definition of �licence� substitute�

��licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply (see regulation 1(3));�;

(b) in the definition of �nominee��

(i) in paragraph (b) for �a member State� substitute �the United Kingdom�;

(ii) in the closing words, omit �Scottish�;

(c) in the definition of �Scottish fishing boat�, omit �; and in respect of which the Scottish Ministers may grant or have granted a licence�;

(d) for the definition of �sea fishing licence� substitute�

��sea fishing licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply by virtue of regulation 1(3)(a) or (b).�

(4) In regulation 3 (communication of licences and notices)�

(a) in paragraph (1), in the opening words, for �Scottish fishing boat� substitute �fishing boat�;

(b) in paragraph (1), in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b), after �charterer or� insert �, in the case of a Scottish fishing boat,�;

(c) in paragraph (2)�

(i) in sub-paragraph (a), at the beginning, insert �in the case of a Scottish fishing boat�;

(ii) in sub-paragraph (b), omit �Scottish�;

(d) in paragraphs (3) and (4), for �Scottish fishing boat� substitute �fishing boat�

(5) In regulation 4 (delivery of licences and giving of notices), in paragraph (3), for �a nominee�s� substitute �an�.

Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (England) Regulations 2012

6E (1) The Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (England) Regulations 2012 (S.I. 2012/827) are amended as follows.

(2) In regulation 1 (citation, commencement and application), for paragraph (2) substitute�

�(2) These regulations apply in relation to�

(a) licences granted under section 10 of the Fisheries Act 2019 (licensing of British fishing boats) in respect of relevant fishing boats;

(b) licences granted under section 12 of that Act (licensing of foreign fishing boats) by the Marine Management Organisation; and

(c) licences granted under section 4A of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 (licensing of vessels receiving trans-shipped fish)�

(i) in respect of relevant fishing boats, or

(ii) by the Marine Management Organisation in respect of foreign fishing boats.�

(3) In regulation 2 (interpretation)�

(a) for the definition of �licence� substitute�

��licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply (see regulation 1(2));�;

(b) in the definition of �nominee��

(i) in paragraph (b), for �in a member State and having a place of business� substitute �, and having a place of business,�;

(ii) in the closing words, omit �relevant�;

(c) for the definition of �relevant fishing boat� substitute�

��relevant fishing boat� means a British fishing boat other than a fishing boat�

(a) which is registered in the United Kingdom under Part 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, and

(b) whose entry in the register specifies a port in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as the port to which the boat is to be treated as belonging;�;

(d) at the end insert�

��sea fishing licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply by virtue of regulation 1(2)(a) or (b).�

(4) In regulation 3 (communication of licences and notices)�

(a) in paragraph (1), for the words from �the owner� to the end substitute �an appropriate recipient (�P�);

(b) after that paragraph insert�

�(1A) In this regulation, �an appropriate recipient� means�

(a) in relation to a licence or notice relating to a relevant fishing boat�

(i) the owner or charterer of the fishing boat, or

(ii) a nominee of that owner or charterer; and

(b) in relation to a licence or notice relating to any other fishing boat, the owner or charterer of the fishing boat.�;

(c) omit paragraph (8).

Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2014

6F (1) The Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2014 (S.R.�(N.I.)�2014 No.�209) are amended as follows.

(2) In regulation 1 (citation, commencement and application), for paragraph (2) substitute�

�(2) These Regulations apply in relation to�

(a) licences granted under section 10 of the Fisheries Act 2019 (licensing of British fishing boats) in respect of Northern Ireland fishing boats;

(b) licences granted under section 12 of that Act (licensing of foreign fishing boats) by the Department; and

(c) licences granted under section 4A of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 (licensing of vessels receiving trans-shipped fish)�

(i) in respect of Northern Ireland fishing boats, or

(ii) by the Department in respect of foreign fishing boats.�

(3) In regulation 2 (interpretation)�

(a) in the definition of �the Department�, for �of Agriculture and Rural Development� substitute �of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs�;

(b) for the definition of �licence� substitute�

��licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply (see regulation 1(2));�;

(c) in the definition of �nominee�-

(i) in paragraph (b) for �in a member State of the European Union and having a place of business� substitute �, and having a place of business,�;

(ii) in the closing words, omit �Northern Ireland�;

(d) for the definition of �Northern Ireland fishing boat� substitute�

��Northern Ireland fishing boat� means a fishing boat�

(a) which is registered in the United Kingdom under Part 2 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, and

(b) whose entry in the register specifies a port in Northern Ireland as the port to which the boat is to be treated as belonging;�;

(e) for the definition of �sea fishing licence� substitute�

��sea fishing licence� means a licence to which these regulations apply by virtue of regulation 1(2)(a) or (b).�

(4) In regulation 3 (manner in which a licence is granted etc)�

(a) in paragraph (1)�

(i) omit �Northern Ireland�;

(ii) for the words from �the owner or charterer of the boat� to the end substitute �an appropriate recipient (�the recipient�);

(b) after that paragraph insert�

�(1A) In this regulation, �an appropriate recipient� means�

(a) in relation to a licence or notice relating to a Northern Ireland fishing boat�

(i) the owner or charterer of the fishing boat, or

(ii) a nominee of that owner or charterer; and

(b) in relation to a licence or notice relating to any other fishing boat, the owner or charterer of the fishing boat.�;

(c) in paragraph (3), for the words from �the owner or charterer � to the end substitute �an appropriate recipient (�the recipient�).��(George Eustice.)

This amendment would add to Schedule 3 minor and consequential amendments of certain statutory instruments relating to the licensing of fishing boats, including (at the request of the devolved administrations) statutory instruments amendable by the devolved administrations.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 18

Power of Secretary of State to determine fishing opportunities

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I beg to move amendment 58, in clause 18, page 9, line 40, leave out �may� and insert �must�.

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to determine fishing opportunities.

It is good to see you back in the Chair, Mr Hanson. The amazing thing about fish is that they are a replenishable resource if used correctly. We can all agree that if there were no fish in the sea, there would be no fishing industry. It is one of those inalienable truths that the Minister spoke of on the first day in Committee that Parliament is sovereign, which is a good debate to have, and that fish are a public good, as I hope to see in the Bill in due course.

This amendment would turn clause 18 into a duty and force the Secretary of State to commit to determining fishing opportunities annually, to determine the maximum quantity of fish that could be caught by British boats. If we are serious about preventing overfishing, the amendment is vital.

This is another example of the Government�s failure to take the issue of sustainability seriously, as it has not been included in the Bill. If it had been up to Labour, we would have called the Bill the �Sustainable Fisheries Bill�. The short title would have been the �Sustainable Fisheries Act 2019�. I understand we are not allowed to change the short title, so we could not table an amendment to do that.

In yesterday�s sitting of the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Martin Salter, formerly a Member of the House who now represents the Angling Trust, raised concerns about the lack of care given to sustainability, when he said that the Fisheries Bill falls short of the White Paper and is much weaker than the common fisheries policy in binding Ministers to fishing sustainably. In July 2017, the Environment Secretary, the self-described �shy green�, said on �The Andrew Marr Show� that the common fisheries policy was an �environmental disaster� and that leaving it would ensure that Britain could

�have sustainable fish stocks for the future.�

Given that, it is important that there should be a commitment to stop overfishing.

On global fish stocks, 29% are overfished, 61% are fully fished and 10% are underfished. The UK has a leading role to play in stopping that overfishing. A 2006 article by Charles Clover, the then environment editor of The Daily Telegraph, who now heads the Blue Marine Foundation, said that if the rate of overfishing continued the world�s currently fished seafoods would reach what is defined as collapse by 2048. The World Wide Fund for Nature said this year that, worldwide, overfishing is one of the biggest threats to the health of seas and their inhabitants.

Today, each person eats on average 19.2 kg of fish a year, which is quite an image to put before ourselves�that is twice the amount people ate about 50 years ago. In 2013, about 93 million tonnes of fish were caught worldwide. Illegal and unregulated fishing constitutes an estimated 11 million to 26 million tonnes�about 12% to 28% of fishing worldwide. Almost 30% of fish stocks that are commercially fished are overfished. More than 50% of our imports are fully fished from developing countries. Over just 40 years, there has been a decrease in recorded marine species of about 39%. That is very worrying.

Overall, according to the Government�s own data, there has been a decline in commercial landings in the UK from around 300,000 tonnes of demersal species to less than 20,000 tonnes during the past 40 years. When thinking about landings, we should bear it in mind that in 2015-16 technology in relation to fish location and fishing gear was of an altogether different magnitude compared with the �70s, making many of the figures all the more alarming.

There is a global crisis and the need for the UK to lead the way is quite apparent. We cannot hide away from our responsibilities and the amendment would close the loophole that allows for overfishing beyond scientific levels. I urge Members to vote with us to protect our oceans from the curse of the �tragedy of the commons�.

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There are a number of other amendments to clause 18 and I would like to cover some of the broader issues that the hon. Gentleman raised in relation to those later amendments.

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Those later amendment will be taken later, Minister.

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Yes, exactly, but I shall address the point of amendment 58, which is simply to provide that under clause 18(1) the Secretary of State �must� rather than �may� make the determination in question for a calendar year.

The amendment is unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. Subsection (2) already makes it clear that the power will be used only in the context of international negotiations on quota species. The difficulty with introducing the word �must� is that that would have the perverse effect of requiring the Secretary of State to set the maximum quantity of sea fish for all sea fish, whether or not they were subject to quota. Species such as pilchards, which we get a lot of in the west country, and lemon sole and squid, which will be important to many fishermen in the hon. Gentleman�s constituency, are not currently subject to catch quotas. We do not want to introduce a requirement that they should be. We intend to use the power only for quota stocks.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not see a need to press the amendment, which would require us to set limits on all sorts of species where limits are not currently deemed necessary.

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The amendment is intended to get a commitment from the Minister to seek not to set levels above those that are scientifically proven, and to prevent overfishing. The requirement to set that level is important and one we will revisit in future amendments. On the basis of the Minister�s comments and the fact that we will come to those other amendments, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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I beg to move amendment 60, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�2,�after �boats� insert �or foreign fishing boats holding rights to use British catch quota�.

This amendment would add foreign fishing boats to the determination made by the Secretary of State of the maximum quantity of sea fish caught, or of the maximum number of days at sea.

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With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 61, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�3,�after �boats� insert

�or foreign fishing boats holding rights to use British catch quota�.

This amendment would add foreign fishing boats to the determination made by the Secretary of State of the maximum quantity of sea fish caught, or of the maximum number of days at sea.

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Forgive me, I had no idea that I would be speaking so frequently. In Tuesday�s sitting, the Opposition were shocked to see the Government vote against an amendment that would have secured a level playing field in environmental standards for UK boats and non-UK boats using a UK licence in our waters. Time and again, the Minister�s tagline when it comes to fisheries has been �take back control,� but without this amendment we will have little control over what non-UK boats do in our waters, if the maximum of fish they can catch is not set.

In speaking to these amendments, we want to reacquaint ourselves with that notion of a level playing field and to have it in the Bill, so that there is no doubt about the difference between UK boats and boats from our European Union and Norwegian friends, in ensuring there is a level playing field at all times.

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Although I understand the intention behind the amendment, I am afraid that it is, in my view, misplaced and this point is being raised with respect to the wrong clause, for reasons I will explain.

Foreign boats do not fish against UK quota limits, so they do not hold any rights to be managed under the terms of the clause. Only British fishing boats can fish against UK quota. British fishing boats are defined as those that are registered in the UK, are British-owned or are registered in the Crown dependencies. UK-flagged boats that are owned or part-owned by foreigners, as we discussed earlier, are covered by the economic link, but foreign-flagged vessels that have access to UK waters gain their quota from the foreign state that issues its share of the quota.

A French vessel fishing in UK waters off the coast of Devon is not accessing British quota, but is fishing against a quota allocated to it by the French Government. Clause 18 is very much about giving the British Government the power to set limits for British fishing boats. Separately, in other parts of the Bill, there are powers to grant access to foreign vessels, but we will not be giving British quota to those foreign vessels; they will be fishing against the entitlement from their flag state.

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I thank the Minister for that clarification, but looking at the Public Gallery I see a few screwed-up faces, as if to say that foreign boats have to fish under British quota currently.

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As I explained, there are foreign-owned British vessels, but that is different from saying that foreign vessels fish against British quota. They simply do not. French vessels in UK waters are not fishing against British quota; they are fishing against quota allocated to them by the French Government.

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I suspect that this is an item we will revisit when considering a later amendment, so on that basis I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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I beg to move amendment 25, in clause 18, page 10, line 3, leave out paragraph (b) and insert�

�(1A) Determinations under subsection (1) must by 2020 at the latest must not exceed the FMSY reference point and be in accordance with international law, having regard to the interdependence of stocks, in order to maintain the stock population above a level capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield and to ensure long-term viability of the stock population.�

The purpose of this amendment is to set a target of 2020 for catch limits to be set at sustainable levels. It also removes the power of the Secretary of State to set fishing limits in line with the �days at sea� approach which can lead to overfishing.

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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 59, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�4,�at end insert�

�(1A) In making a determination under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must ensure that any maximum quantity of sea fish that may be caught by British fishing boats does not exceed the amount that, in the Secretary of State�s view, the best available scientific evidence suggests would ensure that populations of harvested species are restored and maintained above biomass levels and harvested at mortality rates capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.�

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to ensure that the determination of the maximum quantity of sea fish caught does not exceed the level required to produce a maximum sustainable yield, based on scientific evidence.

Amendment 105, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�4,�at end insert�

�(1A) No determination of effort quota under subsection (1)(b) may be made until the completion of a trial for the relevant area of sea, stocks fished, fishing methods used, documentation methods used and any other relevant considerations that demonstrates that there is no possibility of such a determination causing�

(a) a detriment to the achievement to any of the fisheries objectives;

(b) exceeding the maximum sustainable yield of any stock;

(c) reducing the accuracy of the recording of catches;

(d) increasing the risk of danger to the crew of fishing boats.�

This amendment would prevent the Secretary of State making a determination of effort quota until a days at sea trial has been completed and shown not to cause adverse impacts.

Amendment 26, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�19,�leave out paragraph (b).

The purpose of this amendment is to remove the power of the Secretary of State to set fishing limits in line with the �days at sea� approach which can lead to overfishing.

Amendment 27, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�29,�leave out subsection (8).

The purpose of this amendment is to remove the power of the Secretary of State to set fishing limits in line with the �days at sea� approach which can lead to overfishing.

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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hanson. Amendment 25 would reassert the commitment to reaching the maximum sustainable yield threshold, to which we are currently permitted as part of the common fisheries policy, by 2020. The amendment was drafted by Greener UK and it has the support of a number of environmental lobby groups.

This is probably one of the most significant amendments that we will consider; it certainly comes to the heart of the matter. The lack of proper reference to the maximum sustainable yield is one of the most worrying aspects of the Bill. There is a nod toward this early in the Bill, but otherwise it is pretty well absent. I know there are concerns in the industry about maximum sustainable yields, but this is a commitment we have made and I am concerned that, at the very least, the Committee should hear an explanation from the Minister of why, at this stage, we should seek to walk away from it. I suggest that that is a somewhat poor signal to send.

Amendments 26 and 27 effectively remove references to setting days-at-sea limits. These are probing amendments; I have concerns about the workability of days at sea, the principal concern being that they risk leading to overfishing of stocks. I am aware that some parts of the industry in some parts of the country see days at sea as a preferable route. I am open to the idea that, if we can do it in a way that does not risk overfishing, there is no reason why we cannot have a multiplicity of different management regimes, but I have not yet been fully persuaded that that is necessarily the case.

Amendments 26 and 27 are offered essentially as probing amendments, but amendment 25 deals with a more substantial concern. I will not rehearse all the arguments about maximum sustainable yield, as I rather thought that we had finished that debate some years ago.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman advise us how amendment 25 would work in relation to the devolved Administrations managing stock and quotas?

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I would very much hope that they, too, would be working with a maximum sustainable yield principle. I am not aware of any suggestion that they would not.

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We appreciate the argument for amendment 25. The Opposition have committed to leaving the European Union without any roll-back of environmental standards and MSY by 2020 seems to be a glaring omission from this Bill. The Minister will know that we are signed up to that under the common fisheries policy and that it is Government policy under the UN sustainable development goals to continue to be signed up to MSY by 2020. However, I suspect he will say that, given that the Bill is set to come into force beyond that point, it is no longer necessary to have that commitment in the Bill. While I see his argument there, it is not good enough; we must strive to ensure that MSY is a guiding principle of how fisheries are looked at. That is why the Opposition have tabled amendment 59, in a similar vein to amendment 25, tabled by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland.

We note that amendment 25 seeks to remove days at sea and effort-based quota provision. We will discuss days at sea in more detail later, on amendments 26 and 27 and our amendment 23, but in short, we do not want to exclude it from the Bill entirely, as some fisheries are already captured by this form of fishing. Any new effort-based quota allocation should be able to take place only following a robust trial�something that was featured in the White Paper, but which has mysteriously disappeared from the text of the Bill. We think amendment 59 is better placed than amendment 25: fishers need fish to fish, and thriving fish stocks are critical for a profitable and prosperous industry. They are affected by factors outside our immediate control�the temperature and acidity of the sea, for instance�but one thing we can and do control to ensure thriving and healthy fish stocks is how much fish we take from the seas.

Dr Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, a lecturer in marine conservation at the University of Plymouth, in the patch I represent, said:

�Decisions about how much we take from marine environment has to be based on scientific episode and needs to be a duty not an objective.�

The view that MSY is not firmed up enough in the Bill is shared by key environmental stakeholders and across the industry. Griffin Carpenter, from the New Economics Foundation, who gave evidence to this Committee, said,

�Something I think is missing from the Bill�is commitments to maximum sustainable yield�not just the stock commitment but the flow�Many of us were surprised that was not in the Bill.���[Official Report, Fisheries Public Bill Committee, 6 December 2018; c. 107, Q205.]

Helen McLachlan, also speaking to the Committee, said that the 2020 deadline turned things around in the EU from short-term policy making that overshot scientific evidence and increased biomass and decreased mortality and that, if we lose it, we take a backward step.

It is important that the debate around MSY is comprehensive and based on sound evidence. We must not lose that from the debate. We need to ensure that tone and that sentiment, which the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland raised, throughout the Bill and in the messaging we give. That is why MSY by 2020 is such an important consideration.

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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hanson. I rise briefly to support my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport and the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland and the spirit and intention behind all the amendments.

It seems to me quite straightforward that the Bill takes a retrograde step by not including MSY, which is so clearly hard-wired into the CFP and into UN sustainability goal 14. The Minister has on other occasions argued that including it is unnecessary, on the basis that it is captured by the Bill�s intention to not harvest biomass at levels above MSY.

However, it should worry us all that the real experts in this area�those in the third sector concerned with conservation in our seas�clearly see it as a mis-step by the Government not to put MSY in the Bill in the way that other legislatures have, including in Australia, New Zealand, the States and Canada, especially as the evidence from our own waters and elsewhere is that MSY targets have been very effective. Hake and North sea plaice are two recent examples of stocks recovering brilliantly as a result of MSY policy. I therefore cannot understand why the Minister is so coy about maintaining this standard.

The concern, bluntly, is that not including MSY in the Bill will give this or any future Government the wriggle room not to pursue sustainable fishing policies and to set catch levels above MSY, out of line with scientific evidence. If that is not the case, the Minister, who is evidently very expert in this field, has to explain to us, the House, the wider industry and those concerned with conserving stocks in our seas why he is determined not to put MSY in the Bill, which seems to fly in the face of the evidence.

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Let me make clear from the outset to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that we are not walking away from the principle of MSY, and to the hon. Member for Pontypridd that MSY is indeed in the Bill. It is right there in clause 1(3)(b):

�to ensure that exploitation of living marine biological resources restores and maintains populations of harvested species above biomass levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.�

The only bit that is not in the Bill but is in the current EU regulation, which was drafted as long ago as 2013, is the 2020 target.

As I have described, it makes no sense whatever to include a statutory target that will already have lapsed and expired in a Bill that will probably not commence until January 2021 or the end of 2020. The right place to reflect any kind of timescale or commitments, or even on species, is in that joint fisheries statement, which will describe how all the Administrations will work together to deliver those objectives, including MSY. I therefore put it to hon. Members that the right way to replace the EU legislative commitment of 2020 is not to have an already-expired date in the Bill, but to reflect that commitment in the joint fisheries statement.

The other issue relates to effort and setting the maximum number of days that British boats may spend at sea. All the amendments, including the one tabled by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, would delete clause 18(1)(b), which covers the maximum number of days at sea. As he seemed to acknowledge, that would be counter-productive, as we already have something called the western waters regime, which is an effort-based regime that regulates the catches of crab, and in particular of scallops, of the over-15 metre sector.

Hon. Members may recall that scallops are a part of the fishery that can lead to conflict at times, not least over the summer. There are fishermen fishing out of Brixham, not far from the hon. Gentleman�s constituency, who have an allocation of kilowatt-hours at sea to catch scallops in the EU exclusive economic zone�in other words, on the French side of the channel. If we were to make it unlawful to allocate days at sea, the hon. Gentleman would have a scallop war of his own, probably outside his constituency, because he would find that those scallop fishermen would no longer be able to access French waters because we would no longer be participating in the western waters regime.

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I invite the Minister to look at amendment 105, because we do not actually suggest deleting clause 18(1)(b). We suggest that

�No determination may be made�

under it, unless a trial has been completed. I would be grateful if he corrected his remarks.

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My understanding, on the basis of my notes, is that amendment 59 would also delete clause 18(1)(b). It may be that the hon. Gentleman did not intend that to happen, but that amendment, which I understand is in his name, would also remove it.

I will make a point about amendment 105. Again, the western waters regime is already established and happening, so we would not necessarily want to subject it to a trial before being able to make any such determination, because if we were to leave the EU without an agreement at the end of March, we would nevertheless want to have some discussions and reach some agreements on scallops quickly.

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Amendment 59 would actually be added at the end of line 4, rather than replacing it, so it would not remove it as the Minister has said. I appreciate that his notes on the amendment may be somewhat different, so perhaps he wants to reflect that in his remarks.

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If the notes that I have before me have an error�

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It may help the Minister and the Opposition if I say that, as far as I can read, there are no deletions, only additions in amendment 59.

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In which case, I withdraw the comments that I made in the context of amendment 59. I am afraid that the speaking notes that I have been given have an error in them.

On an effort-based regime, the wider point is that we made a clear commitment in the White Paper to explore the idea of using an effort-based regime, particularly for the inshore fleet. Sometimes, when small amounts of quota are attached to vessels�for instance, little more than 20 kilos of cod a month�it is very difficult and administratively burdensome to operate such a scheme.

We were clear that we would pilot an effort-based regime, because we recognise that there are also risks in moving to one. Generally speaking, such regimes work well for low-impact mixed fisheries where it is harder to run a quota scheme. Quota schemes work best in the pelagic sector, where a single species can be accurately targeted.

We have not made reference to an effort-based regime in the Bill because we do not need to. The Bill gives us all the powers we need to run such a pilot before considering rolling it out. Our White Paper was also clear that, for the time being, we will use existing fixed quota allocations as the basis for fishing opportunities. It is already implicit in our commitment to that effect that we are not going to make a rash move to an effort-based regime, but it could have a role for some of those inshore under-10 metre vessels. That is why we have said that we will consider a pilot.

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I may have missed my chance, as the Minister sat down rather briskly, but I was merely trying to ascertain something. I fully accept that the Government are clearly trying, in the language in the initial clause in respect to objectives, to state that they want to set catch limits in line with MSY, but is there anything in the Bill that would prevent Ministers in future from diverging from that and setting catch limits above MSY? As far as I can see, there is nothing that would stop Ministers from doing that, if they chose. That is the reason for wanting a rather tougher duty on Ministers to ensure they adhere to those limits.

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We received some interesting evidence on this from Dr Carl O�Brien from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, who is the leading expert on this. I know that a number of green NGOs have suggested that they would like to see the language tightened here, but we have to listen to those who have the greatest experience in managing maximum sustainable yield and in calculating the measurements, and direct experience of the negotiations. As he pointed out, there are two dangers. In a mixed fishery it is simply a scientific impossibility to set every species at MSY. When they are in a mixed fishery, it is necessary to place some at the lower end of the MSY range and some at the upper end. There will be challenges, as we have heard with choke species.

Secondly, Norway, for example, uses MSY as one of its guides, but not its only guide�it uses other scientific metrics as well. There will be times when it will make sense for us to reach an accommodation with countries such as Norway about the shared management of a shared stock, in order to ensure we have sustainable fishing. If we do not allow ourselves any flexibility to broach such a discussion with Norway and reach such an agreement, the only outcome is that everybody walks away from the table without an agreement and unilaterally sets their own fishing opportunities, which is the worst of all worlds for our marine environment.

This is a complex area, but it is right to have that statutory commitment in clause 1�a statutory requirement to have a plan that demonstrates how we will reach that commitment, while recognising that we will always needs some flexibility, due to the complexity of the marine environment.

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To deal with the question of days at sea first, as I said, these are probing amendments. The Minister�s comments are helpful and it is useful to have them on the record, so, as I indicated earlier, I do not intend to push the amendment to a Division.

However, I want to tease out the Minister�s thinking about amendment 25 a bit more. His objection to amendment 25 is twofold. First, he says these things can be put into the fisheries statement, which is absolutely correct. Secondly, he says that this commitment will have to be met by the time the legislation comes into effect. I see no problem with that. For us to say that by the time we implement this we should have got to this point is not a criticism of the amendment at all.

The Minister�s point about the fisheries statement is interesting. He is right: that is the good and sensible place for maximum sustainable yield to be enshrined, but there is no guarantee that it will be. As we know, the fisheries statement will be subject to a negotiation between four Administrations. There might be any number of reasons why maximum sustainable yield might fall from that particular safety net. If, for any reason, it were not to form part of the fisheries statement, there is nothing else in the Bill that would enshrine maximum sustainable yield as the guiding principle. For that reason, I am not persuaded by the Minister�s assurances and will press amendment 25 to a division.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 7

13 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 6
Noes: 9

Question accordingly negatived.

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I beg to move amendment 28, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�7,�at end insert�

�( ) When determining fishing opportunities under this section, if the current biomass of the stock or the maximum sustainable yield are not able to be estimated reliably using the best available scientific advice, the Secretary of State must�

(a) not use the uncertainty in that evidence as a reason for failing to determine fishing opportunities for the stock, and

(b) determine the maximum quantity of sea fish that may be caught by British fishing boats which functions as a suitable scientific proxy to maximum sustainable yield, and is consistent with the scientific evidence and precautionary objectives.�

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that a suitable proxy is used to determine fishing opportunities for data-deficient stocks.

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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 29, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�7,�at end insert�

�( ) For those stocks for which fishing opportunities are not determined, fisheries policy authorities must�

(a) ensure that exploitation does not exceed the level associated with maximum sustainable yield, or

(b) if the current biomass of the stock or the maximum sustainable yield are not able to be estimated reliably using the best available scientific advice, ensure that exploitation does not exceed a suitable scientific proxy to maximum sustainable yield, and is consistent with the scientific evidence and precautionary objectives.�

The purpose of this amendment is to set a target of 2020 for fishing mortality to be set at sustainable levels for those stocks that are not subject to catch limits, such as shellfish.

Amendment 62, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�11,�at end insert�

�(3A) The Secretary of State must ensure that a baseline stock assessment has been made for all non-quota species by 2030 and he must report on progress on an annual basis.�

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to gather a baseline stock assessment for those stocks that are not subject to catch limits.

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Amendments 28 and 29 can, I think, be dealt with in fairly short order. Again, they try to put a bit more environmental rigour into the Bill�the sort of thing that we saw in the White Paper, but which does not seem to have survived the translation from policy into legislation.

In relation to amendment 28, the Minister and the Committee will doubtless be aware that there are a number of species that are, to use the jargon, data deficient: that is to say, we do not have the useful data that we would require in order to set them as quota species. The procedures outlined in the amendment are guidelines that are to be applied to ensure that a lack of sufficient data is not used as an excuse, or a reason, for fishing those species irresponsibly. The amendment really is self-explanatory.

Likewise, amendment 29 sets a target of 2020 for fishing mortality to be set at a sustainable level for stocks that are not subject to catch limits, such as shellfish. It would bring to the overall framework of fisheries management a coherence that is currently lacking.

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The principles contained in amendments 28 and 29 are good ones, as they deal with how to make sure that we are fishing sustainably.

Amendment 62, which we are also considering, talks about the need for baseline stock assessments by 2030. The reason I tabled that amendment is to try to get the Minister to set out his position on making sure that we are addressing data deficiency. A key reason why our fisheries cannot be classed as sustainable�as we have spoken about in previous sittings of this Committee�is that there is a deficiency of the data that guarantees those fish stocks are sustainable. Making a baseline stock assessment, especially of some of the non-quota species that are under severe pressure, is an important step towards achieving fully sustainable fisheries.

The Minister will know, for instance, about the importance of cuttlefish to the south-west�s mixed fisheries and to fishing fleets in the west country. The lack of a decent level of data regarding cuttlefish is one of the concerns about the future sustainability of that industry, especially as stock levels are going up and down. This year in particular, fishers have reported an alarming rise in smaller cuttlefish coming through where, in the past, they expected larger ones. The purpose of amendment 62 and, I believe, of the amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland�the sentiment of which we can support�is to get better data, to make sure that no fishing levels are being set above the scientific data level.

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I am grateful for this opportunity to explain the approach that we currently take to data-limited stocks, how we have refined that approach in recent years, and what we might do in future.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has six categories of stock, according to the level of data and the analysis that are available. Categories 1 and 2 cover those stocks for which there is judged to be sufficient data for us to do a full forecast or a full stock assessment. Those are the stocks for which we use the maximum sustainable yield approach. Categories 3 and 4 cover the majority of our so-called data-limited stocks�those for which we have some reliable stock indicators but cannot do a full stock assessment. Category 5 covers those stocks for which we have little or no scientific data available other than the landings data. Category 6 covers those species for which there are negligible landings�typically those that are a bycatch only.

For category 3 and category 4 stocks, where we have some reliable stock indicators, the UK has been in the vanguard in the last few years in developing a methodology based on stock trends and biomass trends. My argument has always been that we should make the best assessment that we can with the knowledge that we have, rather than use too many other arbitrary proxies. Stock trends have therefore become the new methodology that we have tended to adopt for most of our data-limited stocks, where we have reliable stock indicators.

For category 5 and category 6 stocks, for which we really have only landings data, we do not really have any other option than to adopt quite arbitrary approaches to how we manage them. Typically, they tend to fall into two categories. One is called �use it or lose it��if a stock is not caught in sufficient quantities in the previous year, the quota is simply reduced to the level at which it was caught, and the landings are used as a proxy for the health of the stock. The other is the so-called precautionary principle, which is an automatic 20% cut, year on year, in the absence of data. That is also used on some of those very data-poor stocks.

Obviously, we want to improve the quality of the data, and we want to move more species to a full stock assessment so that we can do MSY. For instance, in the last two years we have moved megrim in area VII to a full stock assessment�previously it was data-limited. We want to make further progress on that. Dr Carl O�Brien explained some of the difficulties in his evidence. Some species are quite difficult to age, because the methodology where their eardrums are measured to work out their age is hard to use. With some species, there are technical challenges to getting to a full stock assessment. Nevertheless, we should continue to work to improve that, and to get more of those data-limited stocks into categories 1 and 2.

Finally, in his evidence, Dr Carl O�Brien said:

�I think you would be surprised how much evidence has been gathered for non-quota species. Seafish had a project called Project Inshore, which I think is now in its second phase, looking mainly at shellfish species.���[Official Report, Fisheries Public Bill Committee, 6 December 2018; c. 112, Q216.]

There is a lot of work going on to assess the health of scallop stocks and crabs, for instance. Quite a lot of data has been collected through Project Inshore. Obviously there is more to do, but a lot has been done, and work continues to be done in that space.

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I am grateful for those remarks. The purpose of amendment 62 was also to try to put a date on when we will have better evidence. The fact that we have better science than people are aware of is useful, but does the Minister have any idea when we will have firm dates when data-deficient species will reach those points?

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I do not have that data now, but I would be willing to bring the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science�s current projections to the House on Report. The hon. Gentleman will understand that, although I have been in this job a number of years and understand quite a lot about the science, I am not a fisheries scientist. It is an incredibly technical, complex area, and I rely on advisers such as Carl to assist on it. I will happily give the most detailed update that we can on Report about the progress on moving some of the data-limited category 3 and 4 stocks to full stock assessments.

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Every day is a school day. Who knew that we could age a fish by measuring its eardrums?

I am grateful to the Minister for a very detailed answer. These amendments are a bit more than probing amendments; they are about serious issues, which require full consideration. Again, this is another area where we see the general deficiency of the approach that the Government have taken to the Bill. I would be more impressed with the Minister�s views on getting more data in relation to data-poor species if he had taken a different attitude towards the amendments that we have tabled to document all fish that are caught.

Notwithstanding that, and to allow the Committee to make some progress, I will not press this matter to Division today, with the caveat that we will probably wish to return to it on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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I beg to move amendment 23, in clause�18,�page�10,�line�36,�leave out �negative� and insert �affirmative�.

It is good to see you back in the Chair, Mr Hanson.

I will speak relatively briefly about this amendment. It is a tweak, but I sense that it is quite an important tweak. It is on an issue that was brought to my attention by Fishing for Leave and I know that the Opposition will also support it.

Clause 18 gives the Secretary of State the authority to determine fishing opportunities. It proposes that the regulations for determining the number of days that a boat can fish are to be established by negative resolution; we talked about that this morning. Given the importance of this issue�views on it are held passionately, both by those who favour a days-at-sea regime and those who oppose it�there is a strong case that the regulations should be established by affirmative resolution, so that any decisions can be taken in a transparent way, and do not just go through on the nod and under the radar, so to speak.

My concern is that I sense we could be storing up a problem for later in the day. I would welcome a bit of clarification from the Minister as to how he reached this decision and whether he might review it.

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I rise to speak, briefly, in support of the hon. Gentleman�s amendment. When we are talking about allocating fishing opportunities, it is important that Parliament is given the opportunity to scrutinise them, especially at the start of a new fisheries period for our country, to ensure that the allocations carry the confidence of the fishing industry that they are being allocated in a robust way.

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This is a similar discussion to the one we had earlier on the use of the negative resolution procedure rather than the affirmative resolution procedure.

As I said earlier, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee considered the Bill and said that of its 15 delegated powers that require a parliamentary procedure, only four are solely governed by the negative procedure, and justifiably so. I will explain to my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney why I think the negative procedure is justified in this particular instance.

Clause 18(1) replaces powers that are similar to those set out in section 4(6) of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967, and those are also made under the negative procedure. We followed the approach that has been taken not only while we have been in the European Union, but even before we were in the European Union, to have the negative procedure in relation to this measure.

I point out to my hon. Friend that the actual power to determine the number of days at sea is a straightforward power that the Secretary of State has without even the need for regulations, under clause 18(3), and the issue in subsection (8) is that,

�The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for determining, for the purposes of this Act, the number of days in a calendar year that a fishing boat is to be regarded as spending at sea�.

The purpose of the regulations is to establish what happens if they do six hours. Is that half a day or part of a day? The regulations basically govern how we measure a day at sea and whether it should be, as in some cases, kilowatt-hours at sea or a straightforward days-at-sea measure. It is because we may use slightly different effort measurements in different sectors that we need to be able to define in the regulations what a day at sea is. The power to determine the days at sea is a flexible power that the Secretary of State will have, and always has had, so that we can manage our fisheries effectively.

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I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. He went into a fair bit of technical detail. As I mentioned, this is a big issue for our new regime and there are organisations on both sides of the argument that feel passionately about the issue of days at sea. I will not press the amendment to a vote at this stage, but I will take counsel between now and Report. If I have any concerns, I will pass them on to the Minister then. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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We now come to clause 18 stand part. We have had a reasonable discussion, but it is a central clause with lots of subsections. If Members wish to speak to it, I am happy to take contributions.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

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Briefly, clause 18 sets out in legislation the power of the Secretary of State to determine the UK�s fishing opportunities. He can do that by setting out the maximum quantity of sea fish that may be caught by British fishing boats and of days that British fishing boats may spend at sea in a calendar year. The effect of clause 18 is that the Secretary of State can ensure that the UK complies with its obligations to determine fishing opportunities, in line with international agreements.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 18 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 19

Duties relating to a determination of fishing opportunities

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I beg to move amendment 2, in clause�19,�page�10,�line�38,�at end insert�

�(A1) A determination under section 18 may not be made or withdrawn without the consent of the Scottish Ministers.�

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With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 3, in clause�19,�page�10,�line�41,�leave out paragraph (a).

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It is a pleasure to see you back in the Chair, Mr Hanson. I rise to speak to amendments 2 and 3, which appear in my name and the names of my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock). The amendments would ensure that a determination under clause 18 could not be made or withdrawn without the consent of Scottish Ministers.

In moving the amendments, we agree with the Scottish Government�s position that clauses 18 and 19 run contrary to the devolution settlement and will seriously undermine the existing long-held powers of Scottish Ministers. We also share the Scottish Government�s concern that clause 18 deals with matters that fall squarely within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament in relation to complying with international obligations. Although we accept that the United Kingdom is still responsible in international law for compliance with its international obligations, it does not automatically follow that the UK Government alone and in isolation are responsible for implementing and complying with those obligations in domestic law.

Of course, I do not need to remind hon. Members about paragraph 7(2) of schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, which makes it absolutely clear that the observance and implementation of international obligations are not reserved matters. According to the 1998 Act, if powers are not reserved, they are devolved. Although I understand the UK Government�s view that the function being executed in clause 18 can be exercised UK-wide, it remains the case that the purpose of the clause relates to matters that are wholly devolved.

As currently drafted, clause 19 requires the Secretary of State only to consult with the devolved Administrations before making a determination regarding fishing opportunities in Scottish waters. For example, does the Minister intend to set quotas for Orkney crab, as clause 18 effectively gives him or the Secretary of State the power to do? Does the Minister intend to tell Scottish lobster fishermen how many days they can go to sea, as clause 18 gives him or the Secretary of State the power to do?

Our amendment seeks to defend the devolution settlement and require the Secretary of State to obtain a legislative consent motion from Scottish Ministers before seeking to legislate on any matters relating to the Scottish zone and the regulation of Scottish fishing boats outside of the Scottish zone, again, as safeguarded in section C6 of schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. The legislative consent motion on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which was submitted to the Scottish Parliament in September 2017, sets out clearly that the Scottish Government�s position is that policy responsibility and expertise for matters within devolved competence lies solely with the Scottish Government, which is accountable to the Scottish Parliament. In these amendments, we are asking the UK Government to respect that position.

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It is a pleasure, as ever, to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hanson.

Our view in the Labour party is that the Scottish Government, and therefore Scottish Ministers, do not currently have the competence to exercise powers to determine fisheries opportunities and, as such, the consent of Scottish Ministers is not a requirement. As per the devolution settlement, the opportunity to determine fisheries opportunities currently rests with the European Council. That will be transposed to UK Ministers when we leave the European Union. It is therefore the case that any provision requiring the UK Minister to seek the consent of Scottish Ministers in advance of the determination would in essence act as a potential veto on the Secretary of State and the United Kingdom�s ability to determine fisheries opportunities across the United Kingdom common fisheries area.

We have seen throughout the process of Brexit and the subsequent required legislation, such as the Trade Bill, the Agriculture Bill and now the Fisheries Bill, that the Scottish National party wish to extend the powers afforded to Scottish Ministers and what decisions require their consent. I disagree wholeheartedly with that approach, as it is not in line with the devolution settlements, including the 1998 Act, which would have been voted on previously. If SNP Members were to address this issue through the proper channels by trying to amend the devolution settlements prima facie, rather than by trying to do it by the back door, that would be a more acceptable approach.

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As my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll and Bute pointed out, the way the Scotland Act was originally set up, if matters are not listed as reserved, they are devolved. Surely it follows that the repatriation of powers from Europe to the UK should follow that devolution settlement and go to the rightful Parliament.

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Of course, the complexity lies in the interface with international obligations. The Scotland Act 1998 makes it clear that,

�If the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe that any action proposed to be taken by a member of the Scottish Government would be incompatible with any international obligations, he may by order direct that the proposed action shall not be taken.�

That shows a clear inconsistency with the Scotland Act.

That is corroborated by the Law Society of Scotland, which states:

�We welcome the duties of the Secretary of State set out under Clause 19 when making a determination under clause 18. The provisions require the Secretary of State to consult with devolved administrations and the Marine Management Organisation before making or withdrawing a determination. The clause also requires the Secretary of State to publish a notice of a determination after it being made or withdrawn, lay a copy of the notice in Parliament, and send a copy to the devolved administrations. This will assist in terms of ensuring clarity and accountability.�

Of course, if our amendment had been upheld with regard to the dispute resolution mechanism, that would have been a far more sustainable way to have resolved any disputes, rather than leading to an inevitable impasse and total logjam in the processing of a common fisheries area in the UK.

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The hon. Gentleman talks about logjams and he mentioned the other Bills on which the Scottish Government are withholding a legislative consent motion. Is he saying that the Scottish Government should just acquiesce to Westminster and not defend the rights of the Scottish Government?

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That is a rather unfortunate characterisation of the situation. We want to have a consensual approach where arbitration is done in a sustainable way, not political opportunism leading to an impasse in the economic progress of this country.

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The hon. Gentleman�s own party voted with the SNP and other parties against the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. The Scottish Government withholding legislative consent in some of these cases is actually in line with cross-party support in Parliament.

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Of course, these matters will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but let us paint a scenario where there is an impasse in the creation of a common fisheries policy. It would lead to huge economic difficulties as long as that situation�that impasse�persisted, and that is not manageable or sustainable from an economic point of view for Scottish fishermen, and it would not be acting in their interests.

That is why we will also not support amendment 3, which seeks to remove Scottish Ministers from clause 19 entirely. I fear it may have unintended consequences, and I ask the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute to clarify the consequences. If we are to remove Scottish Ministers from the equation and the clause, does he think that will mean that Scottish Ministers will have the power over this area, or simply that there would be no requirement to consult them at all? Both outcomes are incredibly undesirable and the Labour party is therefore unable to support that amendment.

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It is again a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hanson. I did not intend to speak to these amendments, but as a former shadow Secretary of State for Wales and for Northern Ireland I have a few things to say.

I heard with interest the contribution from the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute�the beautiful Argyll and Bute. I would say straightforwardly that I think he is wrong to say that the clause is contrary to the devolution settlement�I think the reverse is true. The clause reflects the current devolution settlement. It is for the UK as the sovereign body to determine our engagement with and adherence to international treaties, and to therefore determine what the fishing opportunities for the whole of the UK would be, in accordance with the agreements that are reached internationally on fishing.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow North East is completely right that the reality of the amendments is that they seek to change the devolution settlement by the back door. Given the long-standing and perfectly admirable�although, in my view, entirely wrong-headed�view of the SNP that it wishes to have an independent Scotland, it is entirely understandable that it should try to use this mechanism to get closer to that objective, but it is the wrong mechanism and the wrong Bill in which to seek to fundamentally change the nature of our devolution settlement, and my colleagues on the Front Bench are completely right to oppose it.

I would also add that I cannot understand the value of striking Scottish Ministers out of clause 19. That would be a retrograde step because it would mean no consultation with Scottish Ministers, which would be a fundamental mistake.

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The purpose of clause 19 is to establish a requirement for the Secretary of State to consult the devolved Administrations. As other hon. Members have pointed out, this matter and the powers outlined in clause 18 are incontrovertibly a reserved UK matter. The amendment would undermine the power of the UK to determine UK resources for the purposes of international law, and relates directly to a UK function.

Where the UK is subject to an international obligation to achieve a result by reference to a fixed quantity for the UK as a whole, the UK Government are responsible for determining how that is achieved. In this case, the responsibility will fall on the UK, under the UN convention on the law of the sea, after we leave the EU.

Compliance with or implementation of international obligations is devolved, but determining UK fishing opportunities is not a function that is exercisable separately in or as regards Scotland or any other part of the UK. It is not within devolved competence to determine, or to block the UK Government from determining, fishing opportunities for the UK as a whole.

Clause 18(2) explicitly sets out:

�A determination under subsection (1) may be made only for the purpose of complying with an international obligation of the United Kingdom to determine the fishing opportunities of the United Kingdom.�

It makes crystal clear the scope of clause 18. It cannot relate to any devolved matter at all; it can relate only to matters relating to the UK�s compliance with international obligations. It would therefore not be appropriate to seek consent from any devolved Administration when determining fishing opportunities. In clause 19, we set out something that we think is reasonable: a requirement to consult.

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I thank the Minister for his reply. As I said on day one, the Scottish Government and Scottish Government officials have worked very closely with him and his officials�for which we are very grateful�and this was one of the few major sticking points. I am disappointed that we do not appear to be able to take this further, but I reiterate that we believe that the amendment is entirely in line with the Scotland Act 1998, and I will therefore press it to a vote.

I am disappointed but not at all surprised by the contribution of the hon. Member for Glasgow North East. Members of the Scottish National party are here at least to defend the devolution settlement, which makes it perfectly clear that if a matter is not reserved, it is devolved. As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun said, the powers that come back from Europe should go to the relevant devolved authority. In this case, I believe it should be the Scottish Parliament. That is why a legislative consent motion should be sought, rather than simply consultation.

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To clarify, section 58 of the Scotland Act 1998 makes it quite clear that this is an international obligation, and therefore the Secretary of State supersedes any devolved decision that would undermine the UK�s international obligations. This issue has a clear interface with the UK�s international obligations. Therefore, it is entirely consistent with what the Scottish people democratically voted for in the referendum that created the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, and with the increased scope of the devolved powers under the Scotland Act 2016. Therefore, in our view it is entirely consistent with the Scottish people�s decisions.

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I fundamentally disagree. I do not want to take up much more of the Committee�s time with dancing on the head of the pin of the Scotland Act, but let us be absolutely clear that the observance and implementation of international obligations is not reserved. It is not the sole responsibility of this Parliament and the United Kingdom to implement and comply with such obligations. I therefore wish to press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 8

13 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 2
Noes: 14

Question accordingly negatived.

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Clause 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 20

Distribution of fishing opportunities

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I beg to move amendment 84, in clause�20,�page�11,�line�26,�at end insert �and,

(ii) for �environmental, social and economic nature� substitute �environmental and social nature, thereby recognising the fishery as public property held on trust for the people�.�

I will start by giving some background information to the amendment, which sets out provisions on the distribution of fishing opportunities. At present, the distribution is inequitable and the system needs to improve. As we move to a UK fishing policy, we have a golden opportunity to bring about those improvements.

Article 17 of the common fisheries policy is retained and amended in clause 20 by stating that the relevant national authorities�the Secretary of State and the MMO�shall

�use transparent and objective criteria including those of an environmental, social and economic nature�

when allocating fishing opportunities. That is a good start, but the existing wording states that the criteria to be used may include �historic catch levels�, as well as the impact of fishing on the environment and its contribution to the local economy. The wording in the CFP, coupled with the lack of a requirement to prioritise environmental, social and local economic criteria, has meant that �historic catch levels� has often ended up being the sole basis on which quota is allocated, giving rise to the present inequitable and unsustainable distribution.

The five largest quota holders control more than a third of UK fishing quota. Four of them belong to families on The Sunday Times rich list and the fifth is a subsidiary of a Dutch multinational. Some 49% of English quota is held by companies based overseas. As is well documented and figures very prominently in all debates in this place, the small-scale fleet�the inshore vessels known as the under-10s�gets a raw deal. Those vessels hold only 6% of quota, notwithstanding the fact that for every fish caught, the small-scale fleet creates far more jobs than its larger scale counterparts. It lands 11% of fish by value in the UK, but employs 49% of all those in the industry. Similarly, more than 90% of the small-scale fleet uses passive gears, which are far better for the environment.

Solutions to the problems can be delivered through the amendments I have tabled to clause 20. Amendment 84 would legally enshrine fish as a public resource, as recognised in the Government�s White Paper. While the UN convention on the law of the sea already touches on the issue, we have a great chance to confirm in primary legislation the principle of the public resource. That in turn would establish the right foundation for distributing quota based on the delivery of public goods and environmental, social and local economic factors, as opposed to simply on the basis of historic catch levels. I look forward to learning from the Minister how we will take up this golden opportunity.

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I am sure it will come as no surprise to members of the Committee that I agree with the hon. Member for Waveney on the amendment. When we considered amendments to clause 1, we spoke about fish being a public good. It is no surprise that fish is still a public good, and that should still be in the Bill. The White Paper states:

�We aim to manage these fisheries�and the wider marine environment�as a shared resource, a public asset held in stewardship for the benefit of all.�

That is the right objective, but it needs to be in the Bill.

The amendment gives the Minister a chance to do the right thing and include fish as a public asset for the benefit of all. The opportunity here is to be clear about the tone. In previous remarks, the Minister said that putting fish as a public good or a public asset in the Bill was unnecessary because it was already a de facto position, just as Parliament is sovereign. The argument about whether Parliament is sovereign is an argument because there are differing opinions on it, as we have seen in particular in the past fortnight. Just as the Minister has sought to mirror sections in other legislation, which he mentioned earlier, it would do no harm�I think it would be of huge benefit�if it were clear in the Bill that fish is a public good. I would have preferred that to be right up front, in the objectives in clause 1, but the hon. Gentleman is attempting to get it in at clause 20. That would be a good amendment and it is one that the Opposition will support.

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I appreciate that my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney is a long-standing campaigner on these issues. He will know that the Government have taken a number of steps to give additional quota to the inshore pool. My predecessor took unused FQA units from producer organisations to give extra fishing opportunities to the inshore pool. For my part, I have top-sliced the discard ban uplift to give additional fishing opportunities to the pool, and we have made it clear that we intend to do more. As I outlined earlier, our approach to the allocation of fishing opportunities will be, for the time being, to retain some stability by allowing existing opportunities to continue to follow the FQA lines, but we have been clear that any new fishing opportunities that come as we depart from relative stability will be allocated on a different basis, as a first step.

I have made it clear that we have at least three approaches under consideration. One is indeed to give additional fishing opportunities to the inshore pool so that our inshore fleet, which, as my hon. Friend points out, often lacks fishing opportunities, will have more fishing opportunities as we depart from relative stability. Secondly, we have outlined our plans to create a national reserve of quota that can be used to help to make the discard ban work as well in practice as in theory. Finally, we outline in other places in the Bill the power to tender new fishing opportunities to producer organisations based on their environmental track record and on what they give back to communities.

I believe that all those things, taken together, mean that, in our White Paper and in the powers that we are taking in this Bill, we have the socioeconomic interests of coastal communities at heart. The Secretary of State plan outlined in clause 2 is explicit about ensuring that we take account of and have a plan for those coastal communities that depend on fishing for their livelihoods. I have already given my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney an undertaking that we will seek to tweak some of the language in that provision, but when it comes to the question whether fish is a public asset, it is incontrovertibly the case that it is. We had a debate earlier about our common law tradition, and in a test case brought by the producer organisations, Mr Justice Cranston cited Magna Carta, no less, to say that fish stocks were a public resource. Specifically, he said:

�Consequently there can be no property right in fish until they are caught. That submission was a useful reminder but common ground.�

The fact that fish are a public asset is beyond question, and I do not believe that that needs to be placed in the Bill, but I am happy, as I said under an earlier group of amendments, to consider the Secretary of State fisheries statement to see whether we can more specifically address the point that my hon. Friend has in mind regarding fishing opportunities.

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I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation. On Tuesday, when we debated whether the public good should be one of the objectives of the Bill, I did take on board his point: as fish is a public good already, what is the point of having it as an objective? However, in this instance, we are trying to redistribute fishing quota more equitably so that local communities can benefit, so I do not think that the earlier argument relates this time around.

The Minister has already said that he will look at the fishing statements in a bit more detail. I just ask that, before we get to Report, we ensure that the criteria for the distribution of fishing opportunities are as good as they can be. There was every intention of doing that when the common fisheries policy was reformed in 2012-13, and his predecessor, our right hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Richard Benyon), did an lot of good work on it. However, fishing communities like the ones I represent are not yet seeing the benefits, and this strikes me as an opportunity to reinforce that point, to make sure it actually happens. I look forward to seeing what the Minister comes up with before Report, but I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Hon. Members: No.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 9

13 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 8
Noes: 8

The Chair: In accordance with precedent, given that there is equality of votes, I have to cast my vote with the Noes to leave the Bill unamended. I will have to explain that one to my constituents.

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Question accordingly negatived.

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I beg to move amendment 106, in clause�20,�page�11,�line�28,�at end insert�

�(5A) After that paragraph insert�

�1A The relevant national authorities shall distribute fishing opportunities made available to them, and may redistribute any fishing opportunities that were made available to them prior to the United Kingdom exiting the European Union. Any such distribution and redistribution must be carried out according to social, environmental and local economic criteria following national and regional consultation from relevant stakeholder advisory groups, including representative groups from across the fishing fleet, scientists, and environmental groups.��

This amendment would allow the redistribution of existing fishing opportunities, would also set criteria for the distribution of future and redistribution of existing fishing opportunities and require consultation.

Amendment 106 relates to the redistribution of fishing opportunities. A key aim of the Bill is ultimately to create a fairer system, and Members will forgive me if I take a moment to read out why it is so important. This is a key amendment for Opposition Members, and one that we believe would, if taken up, have a transformational impact on the health of our oceans and on the local economies of coastal communities right across the UK.

The logic of the amendment follows from the principle of fish being a public good, which, as we have just discussed, is not yet on the face of the Bill, but is something we all agree on. To acquire the right to fish, and use that for the public good, there should be a set of criteria that need to be followed to ensure that what we are taking balances out. The current FQA system is broken: half of English quota is held by companies based overseas, the small-scale fleet only holds 6% of quota, and the five largest quota holders�four of which belong to families on The Sunday Times rich list�control more than a third of UK fishing quota. Small boats provide the backbone of our fishing fleet, making up the majority of that fleet. They generally use low-impact gear and provide more jobs per tonne, but their share of quota is limited to around 4% to 6% of the total.

While there may be more fish for the UK after we leave the common fisheries policy, not amending the distribution of quota will exacerbate existing levels of inequality between parts of the sector, and will fail to incentivise best practice. The fixed quota allocation system, which has been heavily criticised for being unfair from the outset, has not been updated since the 1990s. Again, in the words of the hon. Member for Waveney:

�It is commonly recognised that the inshore fleet�the under-10s�has had a raw deal as far as access to quota and fishing opportunities is concerned.���[Official Report, Fisheries Public Bill Committee, 4 December 2018; c. 39, Q69.]

As a result of the existing system, ownership of fishing quota has become increasingly consolidated among larger-scale interests.

I will make the same remarks as I made in yesterday�s debate on the UK fishing industry: in the fisheries sector, we do not talk about small and medium-sized enterprises in the same way as we would in manufacturing, but if fishing were like manufacturing, the small boats would be the SMEs of our economy. There would be a much greater focus on the support system given to them, the investment into them and the jobs they create, and on making sure that they have the right and fair allocation of quota.

In our evidence session, Griffin Carpenter from the New Economics Foundation said:

�In essence, fisheries have been accidentally privatised. Every year, quota is allocated to the same holders, and there is a legitimate expectation that that continues in future. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and other organisations are too scared to break that hold on the quota and say, �This year we will allocate quota differently.� It has not been done; it is basically privatised now the claim is so strong. If there is ever a point to break that link, it is now.���[Official Report, Fisheries Public Bill Committee, 6 December 2018; c. 102, Q196.]

I agree with him.

The small-scale fleet has generally been excluded from the FQA system and producer organisations, which has led to the decline of coastal communities and ports. Since 1938�a year I am sure we all remember well�the number of fishermen on UK-registered vessels has decreased by 76%. Fifty years ago, the UK had 50,000 fishers; now we have almost 12,000�a huge decline.

The small boat sector is shrinking every year. Between 2007 and last year, the number of fishermen on UK-registered vessels decreased by 9% from 12,871 to only 11,692. Since 2007, the number of fishermen on English and Scottish-administered vessels decreased by 10%. It has fallen by 22% in Wales, and in 2017, 42% of fishermen on vessels administered in Wales were listed as part time. Under the combination of an unfair system and Tory austerity, which mainly hits coastal communities, or has had a disproportionate effect on them, small-scale fishing activity in coastal communities the length and breadth of the UK is a shadow of its former self.

There is now an opportunity to reinvigorate our fishing industry through better and fairer distribution of quota. Fishing quota provides an opportunity to commercially fish a resource that belongs to everyone. Fishing should be seen as a privilege, not a right, but it has effectively been privatised, as I mentioned earlier. The Bill is our opportunity to change that. We do not want to rob big boats of quota and give it to small boats; we want to use the Bill to create a new criterion for allocating quota based on social, environmental and economic factors.

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I acknowledge the opportunity that the hon. Gentleman is talking about. We heard evidence about possible opportunities for some future reallocation. How would his amendment work in principle in terms of the devolution settlement? Would it allow UK Ministers to redistribute Scottish quotas, or would it be an England-only matter?

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I am grateful for that intervention, because it goes to the core of the amendment, which basically sets a different criterion for allocation. At the moment, quota is predominantly allocated on the FQA system. We are suggesting that there should be redistribution based on social, economic and environmental criteria, done on a species-by-species, zone-by-zone basis to take into account the varieties in our different fishing industries around the United Kingdom.

It is important that, when we set the tone for how fishing quotas should be allocated in future, the economic link that I spoke about earlier and the environmental consequences that the hon. Gentleman spoke about earlier are taken into account. That should be done by all fisheries Administrations, not just England or Scotland. It should be done by the entirety of the United Kingdom.

Quotas should be allocated on transparent social and ecological criteria to benefit fishing communities�for example, by offering a greater share for complying with relevant regulations, taking part in data gathering, fully monitoring and recording catches, and complying with discard rules. The UK has always had the ability to reallocate quota to reward particular types of fishing practice or to support broader social or economic goals, but has chosen not to seize the full opportunities that come from that.

Article 17 of the reformed common fisheries policy urged European member states to consider environmental, economic and social criteria when allocating opportunities. It was heralded as potentially revolutionary by senior EU officials when it was launched as part of the overall reformed CFP, but its lack of mandate meant that it failed to be implemented effectively in any EU member state. Greenpeace recently lost a case in which it made that argument in the High Court, but the Bill is a chance to fix that, using fairer criteria for the benefit of the small fleet in particular.

Across the north Atlantic, the small fleet employs five times as many people per $1 million of fish landed than the large-scale fleet. In the UK, the under-10-metre small-scale sector represents more than 70% of English fishing boats and 65% of direct employment in fishing. The small-scale fleet creates 10 times as many jobs per tonne caught as the larger fleet. We therefore believe that there is an opportunity to allocate more fairly the quota that may be drawn down from our EU friends, as the Minister set out.

Let us be clear, however: at the moment, given the differences between the Bill, the withdrawal agreement, the promises made in that agreement and the discussions that will take place as part of our future economic and political partnership with the European Union, there is heavy scepticism in the industry. It sees a risk of further betrayal and that we will not be able to draw down from our EU friends the quota that we had hoped for. In such circumstances, it is even more important that we ensure that the quota that we already have is allocated according to transparent social and economic criteria for the benefit of those communities.

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Does the hon. Gentleman have a mechanism for ensuring that that redistributed quota does not become a tradeable commodity in turn?

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That is at the heart of the current problem. The quota has been traded; indeed, a future Opposition amendment will deal with the problem that the right hon. Gentleman identifies of slipper skippers who trade their quotas as a commodity, using them not to catch fish but as financial instruments to derive income from by renting them out to others. We need to ensure that the economic criteria for redistributing the fishing quota take into account the importance of the quota holder�s using the quota to catch fish rather than as a financial product. Deriving income from a quota without using it damages the viability of the sector by increasing costs without increasing productivity.

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I sympathise with the requirement to allow new entrants to get into the industry by giving them access to the quota, and I was thankful to hear the hon. Gentleman say that his amendment does not propose to rob Peter to pay Paul�or rob Peterhead to pay Plymouth, for that matter. However, when we discussed safety, it was mentioned that fishermen whose vessels are slightly more than 10 metres have shortened them, arguably creating a safety issue, and sold off their quota. How would he address the fact that many of those who are now small fishermen have benefited financially from selling off their quota in the past?

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The hon. Gentleman�s point relates to the question whether fish is a public good. At the heart of it, as the Minister says, fish is a public good. The problem with our current fixed quota allocation system is that in many cases possessing a quota has become more profitable than using it for fishing. That seems to be an inherent flaw in the FQA system, so I am grateful that the Minister has set out his long-term intention to look at FQA and see where it gets to. The important thing is to provide determination and steel to the endeavours of the Minister�in his role not only as an English Fisheries Minister, but as a UK-wide Fisheries Minister� and of the devolved Administrations. Setting out the basis for any redistribution is really important, which is why our amendment states:

�The relevant national authorities shall distribute fishing opportunities made available to them, and may redistribute any fishing opportunities that were made available to them prior to the United Kingdom exiting the European Union. Any such distribution and redistribution must be carried out according to social, environmental and local economic criteria�.

There is a concern among many fishers, with and without a quota, that the current system does not work in the best way.

Our amendment would not mean big boats losing out�far from it. In all likelihood, only a small proportion of opportunities would be redistributed to the smaller fleet in the first instance, making a big difference to their livelihoods and the environment. We need to bear in mind that only 4% to 6% of quotas are currently held by smaller boats. Representatives of larger scale fleets told me that they comply with the principle of fairer distribution based on economic, social and environmental criteria. If they are living up to those aspirations they should have nothing to fear from this policy, because it is about incentivising best practice.

This is an opportunity to create a race to the top, rather than a race to the bottom, which is why the Opposition are bringing this measure forward. This new approach is entirely consistent with the White Paper�s recognition of fisheries as a public resource. It is also backed by Greenpeace, the entire Greener UK coalition, the New Under Ten Fishermen�s Association, the Scottish Creel Fishermen�s Federation and Charles Clover�s Blue Marine Foundation, while 6,500 people in coastal communities called for this change to the distribution of quota in the White Paper consultation.

Many of the Government�s own Back Benchers support the principle of reallocating quota. The hon. Member for Hendon (Dr Offord) said on Second Reading:

�Given that this fleet is not only more profitable to local economies, but employs more local fishermen and uses more sustainable fishing practices, will the Bill allow larger quotas to independent vessels under 10 metres?��[Official Report, 21 November 2018; Vol. 649, c. 905.]

If we are to make real that hon. Gentleman�s aspiration, we must provide the ability and incentives to redistribute that quota, as amendment 106 seeks to do. Denmark�s fish fund�the quota reserved for new entrants or those with good environmental performance�shows that that is already happening. It is time we caught up.

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Sue Hayman), in her excellent speech on Second Reading, mentioned the hope placed in the Bill by people living in coastal communities across the UK. Without quota allocation there is no hope of taking back control. This attempt to redistribute quota is an attempt to make real the promises given by the leave campaign, and indeed by Government Ministers since�that taking back control will have a beneficial effect on those small coastal communities. If we do not provide the ability to redistribute that quota in support of those coastal communities, what are we doing here? That is why the amendment is so important. I will be grateful if the Minister could back it in his remarks.

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As previously, I am in broad sympathy with the approach taken by the hon. Gentleman, but I am concerned that he suggests a big and fairly open-ended commitment here. As I implied during the evidence session, I fear that we would probably be at risk of producing a dripping roast for lawyers for some time to come.

Although it was probably never intended to be the case, fish quota has become a tradeable commodity over the years. Several fishing businesses have made and taken on fairly substantial financial commitments secured against the fact that they own quota and can derive an income from it. The words that start to come to my mind are �legitimate expectation�, and once that is the case we know that we will be heading towards the courts to determine the extent of that legitimate expectation, who has it and the basis on which it can be traded.

Not everybody who owns fish quota is a robber baron. Shetland Islands Council owns a substantial amount of fishing quota that it leases to local boats. That is for the public good, and I would be careful about interfering with the council�s property rights in that way. I would be very open to the idea of returning quota�quota that we do not currently have access to�being dealt with differently; it could be distributed in different ways. Some of the lessons of the past could be learned so that it did not become a tradeable commodity. The property rights could be defined in a very different way, which, with hindsight, we might wish we had done 30 or 40 years ago but did not.

As I say, the amendment would make a fairly big and open-ended commitment. I do not know whether it would necessarily be the best use of the money required. Before I went down this road, I would want to know a bit more than the broad principles. I would want to know how the practicalities would work. As the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport said, fish quota have essentially been privatised. He is effectively talking about nationalisation, and that comes with a price tag attached.

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It is not about nationalisation; it is about the redistribution of fish quota, and the amendment is about being able to do so without a time limit. As the Minister said, distributing FQA takes time, which is why there is deliberately no time limit in the amendment. However, there is a commitment to consult with those groups, including the fishing fleets, to ensure it is redistributed fairly.

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That is helpful, but I am not entirely sure about the hon. Gentleman�s distinction between redistribution and nationalisation. At the end of the day, we risk spending public money. I am not averse to that�it may ultimately be necessary, and I can certainly see the end that is to be met by it�but at the moment it is a little ill-defined. I would favour an approach that dealt differently with the returning quota, rather than mucking about with the existing quota. I am not averse to the idea, but we should not be blind to the risks that come with it.

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The purpose of clause 20 is predominantly to bring across article 17 from the European Union and make it operable. Article 17 will come across as retained EU law. All we are seeking to do is to make changes that make it operable and preserve its intent.

Article 17 states:

�When allocating the fishing opportunities available to them�Member States shall use transparent and objective criteria including those of an environmental, social and economic nature. The criteria to be used may include, inter alia, the impact of fishing on the environment, the history of compliance, the contribution to the local economy and historic catch levels. Within the fishing opportunities allocated to them, Member States shall endeavour to provide incentives to fishing vessels deploying selective fishing gear or using fishing techniques with reduced environmental impact�.

I believe that article 17, as currently worded, captures many of the intentions behind this amendment and the last one moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney.

There is a technical issue with the way amendment 106 is drafted. It does not make specific reference to fixed quota allocations�FQA units�as a basis; it simply talks about trying to redistribute historical fishing opportunities. It is therefore trying to reallocate opportunities that have already been spent�the quota that were attached to the FQA units. I would argue that, from a technical point of view, it would make more sense to have made reference to FQA units.

Greenpeace has had a longstanding campaign on article 17, since at least 2015. In 2016, it brought a judicial review against the Government, arguing that we had not complied with article 17, and it was roundly defeated in that case. Mrs Justice Andrews stated during the case that

�there is a large volume of detailed rules, licence conditions, schemes and policies, including the Concordat and the Quota Management Regulations�which are published and openly available and which have been notified to the Commission. There is ample evidence that they include environmental criteria as required by Article 17, and that far from paying them lip service, they are afforded proper weight in the allocation process.�

The judgment of the European Court of Auditors was that the case brought by Greenpeace was wrong.

Greenpeace has had a longstanding campaign on article 17, but in my view it has been barking up the wrong tree. The truth is that if we want to address the issue of fishing opportunities for the inshore sector, we should not do it by clinging to some article in residual EU law. The correct way to do it is to include, as I have committed to my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney that I will, a reference to fishing opportunities in the Secretary of State�s fishing statement, where it directly links to the socioeconomic impacts on coastal communities�not to attempt to play with the wording of article 17.

The shadow Minister says that we should break the link with FQAs. I have been clear that we are breaking the link. As we diverge from relative stability, any new fishing opportunities will not follow FQA units. The correct chronology as we approach that issue is to say, �Let�s allocate new opportunities on an entirely new basis, not following the residual contours of FQA units, but for the purposes of stability in the short to medium term, let�s not meddle with those existing FQA allocations.� However, as I said earlier, it is absolutely open to a Government, at any point that they want to do so, to signal their intention to reallocate those FQA units.

The case law on that comes from the important test case brought by the UK producer organisations. In the judgment, Justice Cranston suggested that there is a type of property right attached to the FQA units, and that they would therefore probably need to be given in the region of seven years� notice of the intention to move away from those FQA units. Indeed, the Faroes, which have recently embarked on that process, gave their holders of FQA units, or their equivalent to FQA units, a 10-year notice period before they reallocated them.

It is something that very much can be done in the future, but that chronology of perfecting a new, fairer and better way of allocating fishing opportunities, with new opportunities coming in as we depart from relative stability, combined with a signal being given at the appropriate time that we intend to look at FQA units themselves�along with the commitment that I have already given to look at referencing fishing opportunities in the Secretary of State�s fisheries statements�is the right way to address this challenge.

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I am grateful to the Minister for setting out why this is what he wants to do, but that it is too difficult to do it in the way that we have set out. That is how I have interpreted his response. The important thing is that we are talking about setting a fairer framework for smaller boats in particular. I know the Minister seeks to label this as a Greenpeace initiative, and indeed Greenpeace is one of its supporters, but so is the organisation that represents small boats.

The amendment makes real the promises of the leave campaign. If we do not find a way of giving powers to the national fishing authorities to reallocate the existing quotas, what happens if no quotas come back at the end of the negotiations with the EU? What happens if people, admittedly above the Minister�s pay scale, come back with no additional quotas whatsoever? That is a very real risk at the moment. What happens if there are no unicorns in the nets of our fishers? That is the problem that we face.

The Minister cannot have it both ways. He says that he wants to reallocate FQAs. So do we, and there is an opportunity to do that. It is about asking, �How will we make a fairer system if no additional quotas come back?� If they do, I agree with the Minister that we need to reallocate them in a fairer way. Economic, social and environmental criteria are the ones that we agree on�there is commonality on both sides of the Committee Room in that respect.

If no additional quotas come back, because there is a real risk that our fishers will be betrayed in the upcoming negotiations, no matter how many reassurances Ministers give them, what then? The amendment gives Ministers the power to signal, and suggests that Ministers signal, that they wish to reallocate quotas based on those sound economic criteria.

That relates to the point that the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland made regarding the notice period that someone is given. The Minister has answered that question by setting out from the legal judgment that it is a period of seven years. A proper period should be determined, via consultation with the industry and other stakeholders, for when those allocations should have their value reset. It should be set in the public�s best interest, as fishing is a public good.

It is important to set that notice period. That is why the amendment is so important: it encourages Ministers to signal their intention that they will reset FQAs and redistribute them in a fairer way. It might well be that there are whole areas and whole species that we would not want to redistribute. It might also be that there are zones and particular fisheries that we would want to prioritise, as the Minister has said in terms of the small amount of redistribution that his Department has done.

I am not asking the Minister to learn the words of �The Red Flag�, including the difficult second verse, nor to embrace socialism in a way that would offend his sensibilities; I am suggesting that he embrace an amendment that would make real the promises of the leave campaign to our small fleet and our coastal communities. Give the powers to the national authorities to redistribute, if they wish to�in effect, that is what this says. There is no compulsion on them to do so, but the strong indication is that that is the right thing to do.

That is why the amendment is so important. Without it, there is no focus either on redistributing existing quota or on correctly redistributing the quota that is coming over�if we get any. I caution that we should not presume that we will get any, because I fear that decisions made by pay grades far above those of all in this room�including yours, Mr Hanson, unbelievably�might be for quotas to stay as they are. No matter what amendments the Government make, I fear that those decisions are out of our hands. That is why the amendment is so important and why we will put it to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 10

13 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 5
Noes: 7

Question accordingly negatived.

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I beg to move amendment 85, in clause�20,�page�11,�line�32,�at end insert�

�(c) the Scottish Ministers,

(d) the Welsh Ministers, and

(e) the Northern Ireland department.�

The amendment would require that all �national authorities� in fisheries that must abide by the new approach to fishing opportunity distribution includes devolved Administration Ministers as well as the Secretary of State and the Marine Management Organisation.

I should point out that this would not interfere with devolved powers over fisheries. It would, as the CFP does already, simply set the legal mandate for future distribution criteria according to environmental, social and local economic factors. The actual process beyond that of identifying and agreeing the criteria through consultation with experts and the public, plus any administrative approach locally, would be in the hands of the devolved Administrations and not the Westminster Government. I would welcome it if the Minister could clarify the issues and set out what he believes to be the right procedure to deal with them.

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I am happy to support this excellent amendment, because it seeks to ensure that in the distribution of fishing opportunities, Scottish Ministers, along with Welsh Ministers and the Northern Ireland Department�we hope, soon, a Northern Ireland Executive will be restored�would be recognised as �relevant national authorities�, alongside the Secretary of State and the Marine Management Organisation. The Labour party believes such an approach to be fair. It would ensure parity between Scottish Ministers and the Secretary of State.

In good faith, I urge the Minister to accept the amendment. A failure to do so would show that the UK Government are not at all committed to ensuring that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are equal partners in our Union of nations. The amendment is therefore critical.

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Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Scottish Parliament initially was happy not to be included in the clause, because the Scottish Government have worked with the UK Government on that basis?

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It seems that we are in violent agreement on some things�we cannot do wrong for doing right, can we? Interestingly, I think that adding the amendment to the Bill would define the process and make it clear. That is why we also supported a clear dispute resolution mechanism being in the Bill. That, too, would have provided a clear, unequivocal process that would have allowed us to resolve these problems with the different partners in the UK. I have to say that I was rather disappointed that the SNP abstained on that amendment, but we are where we are. I think this is a worthwhile measure and it will be helpful for us to proceed on this basis. I urge the Minister, in good faith, to support it to bind our Union together even more.

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The simple reason that we have not included the Scottish Ministers, Welsh Ministers and Northern Ireland Department in this particular clause is that they did not want us to do so on their behalf.

As I have said many times, the Bill sits within the devolved settlement and it is for each Administration to make the changes that are needed to retained EU law to make it operable. The devolved Administrations are currently drafting many statutory instruments and other legislative vehicles to make retained EU law operable. In this Bill, we have chosen to make the changes that are necessary to make article 17 operable. None of the other devolved Administrations wanted us to include that in the Bill on their behalf. That may be because they intend to address these issues through legislation of their own.

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This is not something I can prove, but I understand from talking to colleagues in the Welsh Government that in an early draft of this clause, the Welsh Administration and others were included in subsection (6). I want to know why they were taken out.

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My understanding is that the Labour Administration in Wales asked for it to be taken out. They no longer wished to be included in this clause. Clearly, hon. Members can ask a legitimate question: does that mean that no other part of the UK intends to abide by article 17 and are content to leave it inoperable; do they intend to address it in a different way; or have they not yet considered it, but might like us to add them to the list in subsection (6) at a later stage of the Bill�s passage? I will undertake further conversations with the devolved Administrations between now and Report to understand their intentions.

I hope hon. Members will understand that we respect the devolution settlement. Without the permission of the devolved Administrations, it is not proper for us to accept this amendment, since it is a devolved matter, but it is certainly an issue where we could have further conversations with the devolved Administrations ahead of Report.

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On the basis that the Minister will seek clarification from the devolved Administrations on how they wish to handle this issue, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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I beg to move amendment 86, in clause�20,�page�11,�line�32,�at end insert�

�3 The documents and evidence forming the basis for allocation decisions must be made available to the public within 20 days of the decision being made.�

The amendment would ensure that documents and evidence forming the basis of any allocation decisions must be made available to the public, so as to enhance accountability and transparency in the quota-setting process. Lack of such transparency has been a key issue with the current FQA situation under the CFP. Indeed, many urban myths have developed. Myths that certain football clubs and car manufacturers own fish quota have been doing the rounds for many years. The European Court of Auditors judged the FQA system as not being fit for purpose. It has led to the trading and renting out of quota at punitive and prohibitive prices, solely for profit and often at great cost to the inshore fleet.

Once environmental, social and economic criteria are established in law as the priority for determining future quota distribution, the environmental and social criteria should be identified, but transparently, by engaging public consultation at both national and regional levels. At a minimum, they should align with the definition of environmental in the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Social criteria could include aiding new entrants to the industry; local landing based opportunities, both in ports and in processing factories; increased landings in ports; and enhancing local cultural identity and tourism.

One of the complaints about the current system of quota distribution has been about its opaque nature and the lack of transparency. This fairly simple amendment provides the opportunity to address that issue and overcome one of the handicaps of the system that we have had to deal with to date. In that context, I am of a mind to press the amendment to a vote, although I welcome the Minister�s comments.

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The argument in favour of the amendment has been powerfully put by the hon. Member for Waveney, but the sentiment is worth echoing. It is really important that, as we set up a new fisheries management system after Brexit, fishers have confidence in that new system. As we have heard, there is a great deal of suspicion about how the current quotas are allocated, and the ability to have that available for public scrutiny is important. We support the amendment.

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The methodology for distributing existing quota between the four Administrations is set out in the publicly available UK quota management rules. In addition, each Administration have their own rules for allocating their existing quota, which, again, are already publicly available. The rules are also subject to consultation.

In our White Paper, we set out very clearly that we would have a revised methodology for the allocations, and it is of course our intention that they will be published. I understand the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney, but I encourage him to read what we already publish before taking the decision to press the amendment to a Division. We already have publicly available rules, which are published, and we have committed to publish new ones. We publish a great deal of information.

As I highlighted earlier, in the judgment in the Greenpeace court case, Mrs Justice Andrews said that

�there is a large volume of detailed rules, licence conditions, schemes and policies...which are published and openly available and which have been notified to the Commission.�

A vast amount of information is already published. I would like to share some of those documents with my hon. Friend for his weekend reading, and then he could consider whether he still has a hunger for more statutory requirements of this nature.

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I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, and I take on board the nature in which he makes that offer. Over the years, so much suspicion has grown up over this issue. I feel that there is a need for transparency so that the industry and the public can have confidence in the system. I do think it appropriate to have what is a fairly minor amendment in the Bill, and therefore I will press it to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 11

13 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 8
Noes: 7

Question accordingly agreed to.

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Amendment 86 agreed to.

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

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With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 19�Criteria for the allocation of fishing opportunities

�(1) When allocating the fishing opportunities available to the United Kingdom between the relevant national authorities, the Secretary of State shall use transparent and objective criteria including those of an environmental, social and economic nature, recognising the United Kingdom fishery as public property held on trust for the people of the United Kingdom. The criteria used shall include, inter alia, the impact of fishing on the environment and the social and economic contribution to the local economy, and shall comply with the fisheries objectives set out in section 1 and any JFS or SSFS.

(2) When allocating the fishing opportunities available to them, English fisheries administrations shall use transparent and objective criteria including those of an environmental, social and economic nature, recognising the English fishery as public property held on trust for the people of England. The criteria used shall include, inter alia, the impact of fishing on the environment and the social and economic contribution to the local economy, and shall comply with the fisheries objectives set out in section 1 and any JFS or SSFS.

(3) When allocating the fishing opportunities available to them pursuant to sub-section (2), English fisheries administrations shall provide incentives to fishing vessels deploying selective fishing gear and/or using fishing techniques with reduced environmental impact, such as reduced energy consumption or habitat damage.

(4) The documents and evidence forming the basis for allocation decisions under sub-sections (2) and (3) must be made available to the public within 20 days of the decision being made, and such documents and evidence shall not be treated as exempt information under sections 21 to 44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

(5) In this section �relevant national authorities� means�

(a) the Secretary of State,

(b) the Scottish Ministers,

(c) the Welsh Ministers, and

(d) the Northern Ireland department.

(6) In this Act�

�English fisheries administrations� means�

(a) The Secretary of State;

(b) The Marine Management Organisation; and

(c) any of the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities.

�English fishery� means such sovereign fishing rights as exist in the English inshore region and the English offshore region.�

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The new clause sets out criteria for the allocation of fishing opportunities. I would like to place on the record my thanks to Dr Tom Appleby, who appeared before us in last week�s evidence session, for his work on drafting these proposed provisions.

As I have mentioned, clause 20 is a reworking of article 17 of the common fisheries policy, which seeks to incentivise better environmental practice. As currently drafted, the clause permits the Secretary of State to distribute fishing opportunities to the devolved Assemblies and English fishermen. There is a concern that it is too complex. The new clause splits those obligations into two parts, as the roles are subtly different�one is a UK determination and the other is a determination with respect to England only. There is also a concern that the way the clause was incorporated by references makes it difficult to read. The new clause seeks to improve on that.

The new clause provides the following. First, it provides a UK function in subsection (1) and an English function in subsections (2) and (3). Secondly, unlike other public assets, the nature of the public ownership of UK fisheries is not settled in legislation�we heard the reasons for that on Tuesday�although the courts confirmed in the 2013 case that has been mentioned at length that fish are a public asset. It is important that the nature of that public ownership is settled, as that would enable UK administrators to manage and dispose of the asset properly, with appropriate powers and duties being granted. It is proposed that ownership should take the form of a public trust vested in the Secretary of State in a similar way to other Crown assets managed by such organisations as the Crown Estate Commissioners.

Thirdly, the distribution of fishing opportunities would include social criteria as a means of tying in the joint fisheries statements and the Secretary of State�s fisheries statement. It would also include a means of rewarding better fishing practices. Finally, since the documentation recording the reasons for disposing of fishing opportunities to the commercial sector would involve the distribution of a public asset, there would need to be unequivocal transparency.

We examined in last week�s evidence sessions whether quota reallocation would leave the Government and the fisheries administrations exposed to legal threats. It is important to consider that question with regard to the new clause. In so doing, I highlight two issues. First, Greenpeace sought independent legal advice, which concluded that these changes would be compatible with domestic and international law and that

�a challenge to a new system of quota allocation enshrined in an Act of Parliament would be unlikely to succeed.�

That conclusion is based on two key points. First, the mandate for reallocation would be placed in a new Act of Parliament that overrides any common law and, after Brexit, will be supreme. Secondly, in the 2013 case, Mr Justice Cranston stated that in his view FQA units could be deemed as possessions falling within article 1 of the first protocol of the European convention on human rights�the right to property. He also said that FQA units had no value if no quota had been allocated or they were unused, and in any case the interference with the possession of FQA units was in accordance with law and was justified.

Taken together, these two points mean that in the scenario of mandating quota reallocation in UK law, as we are now considering in our discussion of this Bill, this is compatible�

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Will the hon. Gentleman explain how his new clause would work in terms of the devolved Administrations and how they manage their quotas?

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I thank the hon. Gentleman for that point. The intention is not to interfere with that management through the current devolution settlement, so I do not think that he has a particular worry on this issue.

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I accept that the hon. Gentleman says that he is not seeking to change the devolved settlement; it is just that the new clause lists the Scottish Ministers. That is why I am trying to understand how it would work practically in the future.

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As I have said, the devolved Administrations would have a full role in this process; that should not present a problem.

This new approach would result in European companies that currently control UK quotas having to respond and show why they should keep this quota on the UK terms, and they would have to address the principles of sustainability and local employment. That approach is compatible with article 17 of the common fisheries policy and it would not be challenged by any other members of the EU. I look forward to hearing the Minister�s response.

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Clause 20 simply revokes CFP rules on the distribution of fishing opportunities to EU member states, according to relative stability. Therefore, these rules will not be part of retained EU law.

Subsection (1) revokes article 16 of the common fisheries regulation. That article provides for the Council to distribute fishing opportunities to member states, which obviously will no longer apply when we leave the European Union. Subsection (2), which we have debated in some detail, simply makes article 17 of the CFP operable in the UK.

I turn now to new clause 19, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney. We have rehearsed many of the points in our consideration of earlier measures and amendments, so I will not dwell on them in detail. I have already pointed out that I do not believe that we need a statement that fisheries resources are a national asset or public property, because that is self-evidently the case and our common law has always held as much. Indeed, recent case law has held that very clearly and we have a common law tradition on some of these matters.

I have already given my hon. Friend an undertaking that we will look at the wording of the Secretary of State�s fisheries statements, so that we can consider the catch opportunities and fishing opportunities in the context of protecting coastal communities and those who depend on fishing for their living.

A number of the other elements of new clause 19 are already accommodated by article 17 of the CFP, which we have now made operable. The commitment to have transparent objectives already exists and is made operable by clause 20, so I do not believe that this proposed change is necessary.

I will also point out that the new clause would have the effect of bringing into scope the devolved Administrations when the way in which they allocate quota to their own fleet is a devolved matter. It is for the UK to allocate limits for the whole of the UK and to make determinations of allocations to each Administration, but it is for those devolved Administrations to decide how they then go on to allocate things to their own fleet.

Finally, new clause 19(6) seeks to bring the inshore fisheries and conservation authorities within the scope of this provision. I say to my hon. Friend that that is inappropriate, since we are talking here about the allocation of fishing opportunities and quotas. The IFCAs have a role in inshore fisheries conservation doing things such as setting closures and sometimes putting limits on the type of gear that might be used to catch lobsters, for instance. What the IFCAs certainly do not do is play any role in the allocation of quota.

Since we are talking predominantly about the allocation of opportunities to fish quota species, it is not appropriate to bring the inshore fisheries and conservation authorities within the scope of this part of the Bill. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will see fit to not press his new clause.

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We support the principles behind the amendment; it is extremely similar to amendment 106 and I refer back to the same arguments that I made on that.

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We will return to new clause 19 at a later date.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 20, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 21

Duties to ensure fishing opportunities not exceeded

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I beg to move amendment 107, in clause�21,�page�12,�line�5,�at end insert�

�(4) The relevant national authorities must publish, on at least an annual basis, a comparison of the number of each species of sea fish caught and�

(a) the catch quota for that species for that year, and

(b) the FMSY reference point for that species for that year.

(5) The publication under subsection (4) must, where the number of sea fish caught in a calendar year has exceeded the figures in paragraphs (4)(a) or (4)(b), note the impact on fish stocks that exceeding that figure is thought to have had.�

This amendment would require the publication of the quantity by species of fish caught to enable the impact on the sustainability fish stocks to be assessed.

This amendment continues the theme of transparency and freedom of information. Under clause 21, the fishery authorities have a duty to ensure that fishing opportunities are not exceeded in any year, whether by catch quota or by effort quota. To be able to hold the authorities to account for the exercise of that duty, we will need to have access to full, accurate and robust information. The amendment will also ensure that we have the necessary data to improve our scientific understanding of the seas, what is in them and how to ensure that we protect and conserve them for future generations.

The amendment, which is supported by various organisations, seeks to ensure publication at least annually of the number of species caught compared with the quota for that species and the reference points for fishing mortality at maximum sustainable yield. We want the publication to include an examination of the impact on stock for that species. I am sure the Minister already has plans for the publication of some of that data, but will he set out what information will be published and what the timescale will be?

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It is important to note that, as drafted, this amendment cuts across the devolved settlement, because it would oblige not only the UK Government but the devolved Administrations to publish the data mentioned. Before accepting an amendment of this sort, we would need to seek the views and the consent of the devolved Administrations. It would also require the collection of data for each species of fish caught. With the landing obligation, that would include many species for which we did not have catch quotas or FMSY reference points, so comparisons could not always be made.

I invite the hon. Gentleman to take some weekend reading away with him. When it comes to statistics, we have incredibly detailed documents, including one from the MMO, which I have in my hands, and another from Marine Scotland. I urge the shadow Minister to read them on his train back to Plymouth this weekend and to then consider on Report whether he has an appetite for even more statistics than those that are already available in published form.

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I wondered what the Minister�s little table was for, and now I understand it is to keep his reports on. I am grateful for the additional reading material. Transparency in this new fisheries management system is important. I am happy to take the Minister�s word that he already publishes a fair amount of data. We will look at this matter again and, if that turns out not to be sufficient, he should expect us to make a return trip to this amendment on Report. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 22

Sale of English fishing opportunities for a calendar year

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I beg to move amendment 5, in clause�22,�page�12,�line�28,�leave out paragraph (h) and insert�

�() requiring or permitting rights to be sold, or not to be sold, to a person who meets such conditions (whether relating to the price offered for the rights or otherwise) as may be specified in or in accordance with the regulations;�.

This amendment would enable regulations to require or permit issues other than price to be taken into account when deciding who to sell fishing opportunities to.

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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendment 6.

Clause stand part.

New clause 20�English Fishing Opportunities

�(1) The English fishery shall vest in the Secretary of State and be held subject to the duties set out in this section.

(2) The powers exercisable by the Secretary of State in the management of the English fishery shall not include the power to borrow money against the English fishery.

(3) The Secretary of State, or the Marine Management Organisation or an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority duly authorised by the Secretary of State, shall have the power to dispose of English fishing opportunities�

(a) for consideration;

(b) on the terms of a licence for a period of no more than 1 calendar year;

(c) in compliance with the criteria set out in section 20.

(4) Any licence of fishing opportunities granted pursuant to subsection (3) shall not create or transfer any proprietary right, title or interest in such fishing opportunities or in any fish before such fish are harvested by the holder.

(5) It shall be the general duty of the Secretary of State in any disposal of English fishery opportunities (whether by the Secretary of State or by the Marine Management Organisation or an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority duly authorised by the Secretary of State) pursuant to this section to achieve appropriate consideration for any such disposal having regard to the criteria for disposal set out in section 20 and any JFS and SFSS.

(6) The Secretary of State shall by regulations make provision for the disposal of English fishing opportunities, which may include�

(a) for rights to be sold by competitive tender or auction,

(b) for a competitive tender process or auction to be run by such person as the regulations may designate,

(c) such fishing opportunities to be rented and an appropriate royalty charged,

(d) conferring functions (including functions involving the exercise of a discretion) on a person running a competitive tender process or auction, or on any other person,

(e) for terminating a competitive tender process or auction where there has been, or appears to the person running the competitive tender process or auction to have been, a failure to comply with the regulations,

(f) about how and when�

(i) payments for rights are to be made, and

(ii) payments received are to be dealt with,

(g) about appeals relating to eligibility for, or the outcome of, a tender process or auction,

(h) requiring a person running a tender process or auction to issue guidance.

(7) Fishing opportunities disposed of in accordance with this section are exercisable in relation to such fishing boats, by such persons, in such manner, and subject to such conditions, as may be specified in the terms of that disposal. In particular, the Secretary of State, or the Marine Management Organisation or an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority duly authorised by the Secretary of State, shall have the power to, inter alia�

(a) specify persons, or descriptions of persons, who are eligible or ineligible to buy opportunities;

(b) require any person to pay a deposit, or do any other thing, in order to be eligible to buy opportunities;

(c) set limits on the opportunities that may be bought by a person or a description of persons;

(d) set a minimum price for fishing opportunities;

(e) prohibit or permit the transfer of fishing opportunities by the purchaser or the exercise of such fishing opportunities by someone other than the purchaser of those opportunities;

(f) extinguish or limit opportunities sold where any amount due in respect of them is not paid, or any condition attached to the exercise of the rights is not met;

(g) provide for the forfeit of fishing opportunities that are held by a person following a disposal under this section but not used, and for payment of compensation to that person.

(8) Regulations under this section are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

(9) In this Act�

�English catch quota� means so much of a catch quota as would (if not disposed of in accordance with this section) be available for distribution by the Secretary of State, or the Marine Management Organisation or any Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority on behalf of the Secretary of State, for use by English fishing boats;

�English effort quota� means so much of an effort quota as would (if not disposed of in accordance with this section) be available for distribution by the Secretary of State, or the Marine Management Organisation or any Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority on behalf of the Secretary of State, for use by English fishing boats;

�English fishing opportunities� means the right to use English catch quota and English effort quota.

�Fixed Quota Allocation Units� shall have the meaning ascribed to them in the UK Quota Management Rules 2015 in so far as they apply to England.�

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In the fisheries White Paper, we made it clear that, on leaving the EU, any additional quota we may receive during the negotiations will be distributed using different methods from the current FQA allocation system. That will be done using a range of different mechanisms. We are amending the Bill to make it clear that quota will not necessarily be put up for sale to the highest bidder. We may allocate it on a range of other criteria, such as sustainability, the needs of coastal communities and the reliance of certain sectors on specific stocks.

Amendment 6 simply includes a duty to consult stakeholders prior to making any regulations governing the distribution of additional quota. That demonstrates transparency and supports our commitment to work with stakeholders to shape a new future for the UK industry.

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I am grateful that the Minister has clarified that additional quota will not be auctioned to the highest bidder. Does he feel that that is sufficient to ensure that small fishers and new entrants to the sector will not be discriminated against? There is a real fear in the fishing sector that the auction function in the Bill will mean that if either this Government or a future Government want to earn some quick cash from the sector, they will seek to auction any additional fishing opportunities to the highest bidder, further cementing the huge monopoly that the large fishing organisations already have in the sector.

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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his brevity in making an important point. I have been very clear that one of the ways of allocating new fishing opportunities that we are considering is a competitive tender process, but the tender is not just about the price to be paid. We want to judge producer organisations on their compliance track record and what they are doing to improve selectivity and reduce their environmental impact; to encourage new entrants into the industry; and to put economic benefits back into coastal communities. I believe that is the right approach. I can confirm that, as amended, the clause will make that explicit and broaden it out to ensure that we can have the type of competitive tender process that I have talked about at many stages during the passage of the Bill.

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I shall speak to new clause 20. The distribution of fishing quota to the commercial sector is one of the Government�s most important functions. As we have heard, it will, to a very large extent, determine the success or failure of the fishing industry post-Brexit. It is generally acknowledged that the current system is dysfunctional as it encourages the over-concentration of ownership and has permitted the foreign dominance of the UK fishing business�something that other EU member states have managed to avoid.

There is a concern that the current regulations do not go far enough, as there is the matter of creating a disposal mechanism of English fishing rights as well as a regulatory mechanism. The new clause seeks to address that concern. I look forward to hearing the Minister�s response.

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My hon. Friend has tabled a very long new clause. In essence, I think it seeks to do two things. First, it talks again about a national asset. It is an aspect of quota allocation that we have discussed many times before, so I will not repeat what I have said about our common law tradition and the fact that it goes without saying that it is a national asset.

Secondly, underlying the new clause is a concern that the new method of allocation that we might adopt might create new proprietorial rights for those who are successful in the tender. I can confirm that that is exactly what we are seeking to avoid through the Bill. That is why we explicitly talk about the use of catch quota rights for a calendar year. It would be possible to have a tender that had an entitlement to a particular right that would go to several years, but it would only ever be for the duration of that tender and would terminate at the end of that process. There will be no accumulated property rights in the tender or auction process that we set out in clause 22. I therefore hope that my hon. Friend will accept that, although a great deal of work has gone into drafting his very detailed and comprehensive new clause, it is in fact unnecessary.

Amendment 5 agreed to.

Amendment made: 6, in clause�22,�page�13,�line�7,�at end insert�

�( ) Before making regulations under this section the Secretary of State must consult such persons as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate.�.�(George Eustice.)

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to consult before making regulations about the sale of fishing opportunities.

Clause 22, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned.�(Iain Stewart.)

Adjourned till Monday 17 December at half-past Four o�clock.

Written evidence to be reported to the House

FISH12 Cornwall Council