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Fisheries Bill [HL]

Volume 804: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2020

Third Reading

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Fisheries Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

A privilege amendment was made.


Moved by

My Lords, I express my gratitude to noble Lords for their interest in the Bill and their contributions. In particular, I thank my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern and my noble friends Lord Caithness and Lord Blencathra for their stalwart support. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Whitchurch and Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, and the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, from the Opposition Front Benches for our constructive dialogue as we have navigated together through the complexities of fisheries.

I acknowledge the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for his extensive experience of fisheries matters, and my noble friend Lord Lansley, whose tenacity and force of argument produced an amendment that the Government supported. As a non-scientist, my scientific discussions with the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, have been both illuminating and helpful.

Your Lordships’ Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has twice reported positively on this Bill, stating that it

“represents a significant increase in the scrutiny that Parliament will have over fisheries policy compared to the last 45 years.”

Noble Lords have certainly ensured that, and will continue to do so.

I place on record my appreciation for officials in both Defra and the devolved Administrations, parliamentary counsel and the clerks who have assisted us all. The Bill team’s officials and lawyers have been exemplary throughout the passage of the Bill, and I am most grateful for their professional approach. My noble friend Lady Bloomfield has been unwavering in her dedication and commitment throughout the passage of the Bill. I much appreciate her support.

Finally, it is clear that we all wish to seek to secure a brighter future for our fishing industry across the United Kingdom, both in the immediate and the longer term. We are united across this House in recognition of the importance of the industry as a source of employment for many in coastal communities, and of fish as a healthy food source. We all appreciate that the future of our fishing fleet cannot be separated from the health of our marine ecosystem. This Bill takes a vital holistic approach to fishing, and I believe that this will spell a brighter future for our industry and our seas. I beg to move.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his usual courtesy in the way he has dealt with this Bill, and for all the information and help he has given us as we have moved through it. I thank all those around the House who have come together to pass a number of essential amendments, including the important amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Lansley.

Having said that, I hope that the Government will talk to us more about these amendments. As the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, mentioned, they are very much in line with government policy to protect the marine environment and level up coastal communities. I hope that we can find a way to retain the substance and the spirit of those amendments as the Bill passes through the other place and, potentially, comes back to this House.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his very kind comments and for the courteous way in which he has engaged with us, and with our scrutiny of the Bill, throughout its passage. It has been extremely helpful to have the various technical briefings, both with civil servants and in writing; it certainly helped us to raise the level of debate.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, we very much hope that the Government will reflect on the amendments we have passed as the Bill goes to the Commons. They were made in good faith, with the interests of both the environment and our future fishing sector in mind. I very much hope that they are not simply returned to us but used to strengthen the Bill in the longer term.

In the meantime, I reiterate my thanks to the Minister and to all those on the Bill team, who have been very helpful as we have worked our way through the Bill.

My Lords, I know that it is not necessarily normal to speak on Third Reading when there are no amendments, but given that our current procedures do not really allow for reflection on developments made during Report, this is perhaps my only opportunity to comment on those.

The passing of at least one amendment on Report highlighted the relationship between the legislation that we pass here and the legislative responsibilities of, in particular, the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. I hope that, in reflecting on the amendments that were carried, the Government will try to keep the spirit of those amendments—for example, I supported in principle the amendment on landing rights but did not vote for it because of the impingement on the devolution settlement, but its spirit was very positive for coastal towns and their future—and perhaps come back with their own amendments that deal with such issues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but do not impinge on the devolution settlement. I hope that the Government will reflect on that in the other place and, when the Bill, if amended, comes back to the House of Lords.

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson—and to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, although there was an element of surprise to that, as we are now into the “Bill do now pass” stage.

I conclude with one key point: this has been a Bill on which Her Majesty’s Government have worked very closely with the devolved Administrations. We will continue to do so, for the interests of fishing communities across the United Kingdom. With those remarks, and with my thanks to all noble Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Bill passed and sent to the Commons.

Sitting suspended.