Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Commons Hansard
x
Public Bill Committees
17 December 2018

Fisheries Bill (Ninth sitting)

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

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

† 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

Monday 17 December 2018

(Afternoon)

[David Hanson in the Chair]

Fisheries Bill

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I welcome colleagues to a potentially full Monday.

Clause 23

Discard prevention charging schemes

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 103, in clause 23, page 13, line 28, at end insert—

“(c) where monies raised through a charging scheme are spent.”

To bring transparency over use of money raised through a charging scheme, and to allow for it to be argued for a revenue to be ringfenced to be spent on research and investment in the industry.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 104, in clause 23, page 14, line 7, at end insert—

“(8) The Secretary of State must publish a report every year that reviews the charging scheme. This review will include—

(a) the amount of revenue raised through the scheme, and

(b) the use of revenue raised through the scheme.”

To require the Secretary of State to publish an annual review of the charging scheme.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pleasure to be back here under your chairmanship, Mr Hanson. If you will indulge me, I will say a brief word about the conduct of the Committee’s business, which has been exemplary so far. We have managed to get through a lot of business. Nobody has taken too long, but we have managed a thorough exploration of the issues. You might be aware, Mr Hanson, that this week is significant for fishing communities, coinciding as it does with the advent of the annual December Fisheries Council in Brussels. Many of us here represent fishing communities and we know the importance of having the best possible representation at the highest possible level from our own Government. It is a fairly common view within our communities that the Minister should be there in attendance if possible. We therefore wish to finish the business of the Committee tonight if possible. Obviously, the matter is of long-term importance, but, for the communities that we represent, what happens in Brussels in the next day or two will be significant.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his comments, but it is a matter for every member of the Committee to determine when we complete our business. Sittings are planned until Wednesday, but if Members restrain themselves, completing business tonight could be achieved.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Indeed, Mr Hanson. I will simply say this: not only from the point of view of those of us who represent fishing communities, but from the point of view of Parliament as a whole, it will do no harm for MPs to be seen at least in this regard as behaving like mature grown-ups.

The Committee will be aware that clause 23 seeks to introduce a discard prevention charging scheme for those who, for whatever reason, have taken over-quota fish. The amendments try to add a little more focus to that. Amendment 103 allows for the money taken from these finds to be ring-fenced and a specific purpose for the money to be identified. The specific purpose that I have in mind relates to fisheries management, conservation, and perhaps maritime or marine environmental schemes—measures of that sort. Given the general nature of the Bill, and with a view to the durability of the legislation, we have not sought to tie the hands of any future Minister with regard to what that specific purpose might ultimately be. It is a fairly novel approach to a scheme of this sort, but it is not without precedent.

The precedent that springs most readily to mind is the aggregates levy, which allowed money to be ring-fenced for spending in communities situated next to aggregate excavation quarries because they were in some way affected by the industry. It would be a very good signal to send, and such a measure would bring about a bit of confidence in the industry itself with regard to how the discard prevention charging scheme is administered.

Amendment 104 would make provision for an annual review to account for the money raised and how it has been spent. That would follow on naturally from amendment 103—if the Committee were minded to incorporate such a measure. It is an important point, but not one that at this stage, subject to what I might hear from the Minster, I intend to push to a vote.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is good to see everyone back here. I think we all agree that discards should be prevented, and we all want more sustainable forms of fishing, but the discard ban that will kick in on 1 January worries fishers from Cornwall and Plymouth to Peterhead and Fraserburgh. They worry that their boats will be tied up because the ban will prevent them from going to sea.

We need a system that prevents discards and means fish caught without a quota are not wasted, chucked overboard or discarded. We heard in our evidence sessions from Aaron Brown of Fishing for Leave, who feels there are major problems with this part of the Bill. Helen McLachlan, and Debbie Crockard of the Marine Conservation Society, referred to the uncertainty about the consequences—intended and, importantly, unintended —of the scheme. Even Dr O’Brien did not entirely convince us that he knew how the scheme would work.

The amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland seem entirely sensible, but we are not convinced that the Government have suddenly found the right answer. It undermines this enabling Bill to set out the scheme in such detail without any scope for piloting or consultation to see what works and to develop the detail of the scheme in collaboration with fishers and marine conservation organisations.

I therefore would be grateful if the Minister answered a few questions about this part of the Bill. Where did the basis for the scheme come from? Are there any precedents in other countries? What evidence did the Department draw on when designing the scheme? What industry views were sought, what opinions were given, and how were they taken into account? Why does the Department consider that it is not appropriate to conduct a pilot or trial to test the key elements of the scheme before it is enshrined in primary legislation? Under the scheme, what will happen to the fish that are landed? How will the Department avoid requiring fishers to go to and from harbour to land fish, thereby increasing their carbon footprint?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is, perhaps, pertinent that the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland raised the December Council, since it will be dominated by the issue of choke species and making the discard ban work in practice. I can briefly reassure him that I joined our delegation by conference call at eight this morning and again at two, and I plan to be on the first train out there tomorrow, when the substantive negotiations will take place. In the meantime, my noble Friend Lord Gardiner is covering proceedings.

We looked at the idea of a discard prevention charging scheme because we all know, as we approach the final year of the landing obligation, that there are challenges with making it work as far as choke species are concerned. The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, asked whether there is precedent for such a scheme. Iceland and New Zealand both have similar schemes, with a kind of overage charge.

I was attracted to that idea because it is rather similar to what we did when we first introduced dairy quotas. Initially, if a farmer went over his quota for milk production, he had to pour the milk down the drain—he could not sell it at all. The super levy was then developed, which meant he could sell it but there would be no economic value to him for producing it. We seek to do something similar here. We will establish a national reserve of quota to underpin the discard prevention charge. Rather than coming up with lots of complex rules, like we have now, to try to find exemptions or other de minimis ways of managing the discard ban, we want to ensure that there is no financial incentive for fishermen to target those fish. However, we do not want to prevent them from landing those fish should they run into stocks they had sought to avoid.

The shadow Minister also asked about consultation. This idea was set out in some detail in our White Paper. Since the White Paper was published, my officials have travelled the country—they have visited fishing communities from Newlyn right up to the north of Scotland—to talk to the industry about the plans we have outlined. I think it is fair to say that the industry recognises that there are many challenges with making the discard ban and the landing obligation work in practice as well as in theory. That is why it is open to this approach, which has a proven track record in some countries.

Finally, the shadow Minister mentioned that we had put the scheme in the Bill without having a pilot or any detailed consultation. I reassure him that clause 23(1) is clear that this will be done through regulations. Before we lay those regulations, we absolutely will consult thoroughly with the industry to ensure that we get the scheme design right. I also reassure him that it is absolutely my intention that we will pilot the scheme before rolling it out nationally. It is obviously quite an important policy and will be quite an important departure from the scheme we have now, and we want to make sure that we have the design right. I hope that, having given that reassurance, the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland will not feel the need to press the amendments to a vote.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am not entirely sure that the Minister embraced the substance of the amendments—that the money raised by this scheme could be ring-fenced, and that there should be some reporting mechanism or accountability for it. I am not trying to be difficult. Perhaps the Minister would like to intervene on me?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I did indeed miss out a part of my notes. I reassure the right hon. Gentleman that we are absolutely committed to transparency, and that existing Treasury rules require us to publish this information. Under the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000, the Treasury has already directed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to prepare, for each financial year, consolidated resource accounts detailing the resources acquired, held or disposed of, and the Department’s use of resources during the year. If the intention behind the amendment is that the money should be ring-fenced for conservation purposes, that is set out in clause 27(3)(c).

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

This is an intervention, Minister.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am grateful to the Minister for that helpful intervention. I and others strongly suspected that the Treasury would be the least fond of this proposal. The Minister has confirmed those suspicions. However, that is not an unreasonable explanation, and on that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I think we covered the key issues of the clause when I set out the purpose and the thinking behind the charging scheme.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 23 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 24

Meaning of “chargeable person” and “unauthorised catch of sea fish”

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 94, in clause 24, page 14, line 17, after “Organisation” insert

“or an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority”.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 95, in clause 24, page 14, line 23, after “Organisation” insert

“or an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority”.

Amendment 96, in clause 24, page 14, line 26, after “Organisation” insert

“or an Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority”.

Amendment 99, in clause 29, page 17, line 37, after “MMO” insert

“or on the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities”.

Amendment 100, in clause 29, page 17, line 38, after “MMO” insert

“or on the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities.”.

Amendment 101, in clause 29, page 17, line 39, after “power of” insert “either”.

Amendment 102, in clause 29, page 17, line 39, after “MMO” insert

“or the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities”.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hanson. The amendments are more of the probing variety and are not quite as intimidating and long as they might appear. They relate to clauses 24 and 29, which concern the charging arrangements for the administration of the disposal of English fishing opportunities.

I seek to address three issues through this group of amendments. First, I would add to the marine functions for which charges can be made. Secondly, I would expand the provisions to allow inshore fisheries and conservation authorities, not only marine management organisations, to recoup costs. Thirdly, while the level of charges is not likely to be great, I think it would be appropriate, wherever possible, to direct these funds to preserving English fisheries for future generations.

This particular group of amendments would allow IFCAs, not only the MMO, to recoup costs. I would welcome clarification from the Minister on whether it is appropriate to add IFCAs to the clause. If he does not think that it is, I seek his assurance as to why.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I will be brief. The hon. Member for Waveney raises some good points. I asked for further clarity on the role of IFCAs previously, because it seems to be an area that is missing from large parts of the Bill. I would be grateful if the Minister responds to that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

To reassure my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney, we have not included IFCAs in the clause in the way that his amendments suggest, in common with similar amendments that he has tabled, because IFCAs do not have any role in quota management. It is not appropriate for them to be covered by this clause, which is explicitly in relation to the discard prevention charge.

IFCAs do not carry out the functions for which we want the MMO to charge. In essence, the funding mechanisms for IFCAs are also different from the MMO. IFCAs are funded by a levy charged to their sponsoring local authorities. They receive around £8.7 million for that. Local authorities have a legal duty to pay the levy. Recovered courts costs awarded from successful prosecutions also appear as revenues. IFCAs are encouraged to explore ways of supplementing their income by creating commercial revenues—through survey work, for example. Their funding model is very different. They have no role in quota management and it is not appropriate to bring them within the scope of these clauses.

IFCAs are already able to charge for permits under their bylaw-making powers in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. That means that where, for instance, they issue a permit to allow people to catch cockles, they are able to charge to cover the cost of issuing that permit. There are other provisions in other pieces of legislation that give them some charging powers that are appropriate, but it would not be appropriate to give them a role in an area that is entirely managed by the MMO.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am grateful for the Minister’s clarification of that issue, particularly that IFCAs do not have a role in quota management and that they have alternative funding arrangements. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The purpose of the clause is simply to provide the meaning of “chargeable person” and “unauthorised catch at sea fish” in respect of the discard prevention charging scheme. Subsection (1) provides that the chargeable persons under a scheme must be holders of English sea fishing licences or producer organisations that have at least one member that is an English sea fishing licence holder. Producer organisations are included as chargeable persons as they frequently manage quota on behalf of their members and distribute quota between the members. Subsection (2) gives the meaning of unauthorised catch of sea fish; unauthorised catch means catch in excess of the amount authorised by the MMO for that vessel or producer. Subsection (3) provides flexibility so that a scheme may determine what catch is to be deemed as authorised by the MMO.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 24 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 25

Catches subject to a charge ignored for certain regulatory purposes

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Briefly, the sole purpose of this clause is to ensure that fishermen are not further penalised for processing unauthorised catch if they have complied with the discard prevention charging scheme. The clause provides that where a charge is payable under the scheme, the scheme may provide that the fishing activity that led to the charge may be ignored in determining whether there has been a breach of a licence requirement. That means that, under the scheme, if a charge is paid as required for an unauthorised catch, no further action will be taken.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 25 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 26

Charge collectors

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The purpose of this clause is simply to enable the Secretary of State, when setting up a charging scheme, to determine the functions of a charge collector, together with certain details such as terms of appointment and termination of the charge collector. Subsection (1) states that the Secretary of State can appoint a charge collector to administer the scheme and to specify the terms and termination of their appointment and functions they will carry out. Subsection (2) details the nature of the functions that may be conferred on the charge collector. Subsection (3) provides that the scheme may allow for duties to be placed on a charge collector after their appointment has been terminated. Subsection (4) allows a scheme to contain provision about appeals against decisions of charge collectors. Subsection (5) provides for the possibility that any expenditure incurred by the charge collector when exercising their functions can be recovered.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Can the Minister confirm that, although these provisions exist, they are permissive and it would remain possible for Government Departments to carry out those functions?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Yes, that is absolutely the case. Indeed, it is likely to be the case that the Marine Management Organisation would perform those functions on behalf of the Government. The clause simply provides the opportunity for others to be involved, should that be required.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 26 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 27

Discard prevention charging schemes: supplementary provision

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Clause 27 is about supplementary provisions. It includes provisions for a discard prevention charging scheme to include provisions for unpaid charges to be recovered as a debt, for masters of fishing boats to be jointly liable with licence holders for charge payments, and for how charge collectors must manage the receipt of charges. It also allows the Secretary of State to exercise discretion in the functioning of the scheme and to delegate any of their functions under the scheme. The clause provides necessary detail on the scheme to ensure its proper functioning.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am grateful to the Minister for setting that out. I have a question for him on this scheme, in relation to equal access and shared access to waters. He is setting out a scheme for English fisheries, but could he set out what happens in the event of a fishing boat leaving English waters and travelling through to Scottish waters, for instance, and there being discards en route at some location between? Is there a way of meshing this together perfectly with what happens with a Scottish discard scheme to ensure that there are no loopholes because of the transition between two national fisheries areas?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The shadow Minister makes an important point. As I have said all along, this Bill tries to sit within our somewhat complex devolution settlement. I will make two points. First, Scotland is facing exactly the same challenges that we in England are facing, with regard to making the discard ban work in practice as well as in theory. From discussions with officials, I am aware that the Scottish Government are interested in looking at a similar scheme for fishermen in Scotland. It may be that this is something we can work on together across the UK.

Secondly, to answer the hon. Gentleman’s specific point about how we would deal with catches, some of which might have been caught in Scotland and some of which might have been caught in England, we have quite a detailed system of catch reporting. They have to log catches. We have vessel monitoring systems so that we know where vessels are catching fish. We have trained operators in our control room in Newcastle who monitor fishing patterns and can identify suspicious behaviour, such as a fishing vessel fishing in one area and then driving around to pretend it has fished in another, and we have ways of reconciling fishermen’s landing records with their catch records to ensure that we can manage this as an England-only scheme, should that be necessary.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 27 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28

Financial assistance: powers of Secretary of State

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 108, in clause 28, page 16, line 25, at end insert—

“(f) the gathering of scientific data relating to fishing, including but not limited to carrying out stock assessments, vessel monitoring and recording fishing catches.”

This amendment would enable financial assistance to be provided for scientific data collection.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 98, in clause 29, page 17, line 21, at end insert—

“(e) commissioning scientific research to support—

(i) fish stock management, food security and biodiversity, and

(ii) the development of low impact fishing techniques.

(f) any other administrative function relating to fisheries management.”

Amendment 109, in clause 31, page 18, line 24, at end insert—

“(d) the gathering of scientific data to inform management of fish stocks.”

This amendment would add scientific data collection to the conservation purpose for which Clause 31 enables the Secretary of State to make regulations.

New clause 21—Proceeds of charges and fees

“(none) Any proceeds or charges received by the Secretary of State, the Marine Management Organisation or any Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority pursuant to sections 22, 23 or 29(3) shall be used to preserve the English fishery for future generations, which shall include—

(a) the commissioning of scientific research to support effective stock management and biodiversity;

(b) the commissioning of scientific or technical research into, and the development of, low impact fishing techniques;

(c) the administrative functions relating to fisheries management of the Secretary of State, the Marine Management Organisation and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities; and

(d) such other objectives as may be set out in a JFS or SSFS.”

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Amendment 108 would make it possible to provide funding for data collection, scientific research and better vessel monitoring. Just about everyone in this debate supports better data. Fishers would like the opportunity to prove that they are behaving sustainably and that there are more fish in the water than the scientists say. It would be money well spent, given the extra potential revenue if fisheries were recovered to their optimum economic output.

UK seas have historically been an abundant source of food, income and employment, but they are failing to meet their full potential. Government figures show that two thirds of our main commercial fish stocks are depleted, overfished or at risk of being depleted, or their status is unknown. With better scientific understanding of our fish stocks and the impact of fishing, fisheries management would be more effective, helping stocks to recover and our marine ecosystem to flourish.

Funding data collection makes good economic sense because the cost of stock assessments is very reasonable. Sustain calculates an initial cost of £190 million and then £19 million annually to assess all deficient stocks. Conservative estimates suggest that would catch £150 million more fish in the UK if all stocks were managed at their economic optimum. Better data could allow management to be more precise and responsive. It could give fishers the evidence that they argue for, for increased catches where sustainability is proven.

Data deficiency is a significant issue for the UK fishing fleet. Poor data is affecting the management of commercial opportunities for the most important species in the UK. As we heard in our evidence sessions, data deficiency is one of the main reasons why much of the fish caught in UK waters cannot be marketed as sustainable. For fishing to be sustainable there must be sufficient understanding of the population of the targeted species, and of the impact of fishing and/or the status of the sea floor ecosystems. Without that data, boats can be considered ineligible for Marine Stewardship Council certification, or receive a lower rating on the Marine Conservation Society’s “Good Fish Guide”. With better data, more UK fisheries would be eligible for sustainability certification, or would receive a better rating from the MCS. That would allow them access to the best markets for fish, including UK public sector catering.

In a recent report, Sustain found that UK fisheries are not verifiably sustainable and are losing out on millions of pounds’-worth of business, because companies look abroad for fish that meet their sustainable buying policies. Data deficiency particularly disadvantages small-scale fleets—80% of the stocks targeted by the large industrial fleet have stock assessments, whereas only 12% of those targeted by small-scale English fleets have adequate data to achieve sustainability certification. It is unfair on smaller boats if, even when they fish sustainably, they are unable to prove it. That is why amendment 108 would include the gathering of scientific data on fishing in the key provisions of the Bill. Amendment 109 would amend clause 31 to make

“the gathering of scientific data to inform management of fish stocks”

an additional conservation purpose under the Bill. So data collection and data deficiency would be dealt with in those two separate areas.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I want to speak to amendment 98 and new clause 21. The amendment would make two additions to the list of what are called “relevant marine functions”, for which charges can be made. The first addition, following on from the remarks of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, would be the commissioning of

“scientific research to support…fish stock management, food security and biodiversity”.

Improving our science is very important. Secondly, the amendment would add a general

“administrative function relating to fisheries management”.

New clause 21 sets out three uses for which the proceeds could be used: the commissioning of scientific research to support effective stock management and biodiversity; the commissioning of scientific research into the development of low-impact fishing techniques; and

“the administrative functions relating to fisheries management of the Secretary of State, the Marine Management Organisation and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities”.

It is important to incentivise the collection of scientific data and research so as to support fish stock management and biodiversity. Fisheries science and accurate data are essential, as things move forward, to put fisheries management on to an effective footing that will be sustainable in the long term. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s plans for that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I understand that the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, on financial assistance, and those tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney, relating to the power to impose charges, have at their heart a concern that we need better quality scientific data. We have discussed that on a number of occasions. I broadly agree. We have made some good progress; stocks that were of data-limited status have moved on to have full stock assessments. There is undoubtedly further to go.

DEFRA already pays the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science to gather the data as part of its service level agreement. The issue is whether there is a need for clause 28 to include an additional purpose in relation to science. Our view is that there is not, for a number of reasons. First, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which is an EU fund, does indeed have a category for enforcement and science. That is made available to national Governments for doing the relevant work. Clearly, in an era where we are funding national Government activities directly from the Treasury we do not need a separate provision in the way that we do in the EMFF.

Our view is therefore that future grants to replace the EMFF should be directed at the fishing industry and aquaculture, to support those areas, and that the funding for the activities of CEFAS and science should come from the Government, and the powers to do that obviously already exist through the normal channels—the spending review processes and the funding that we make available to CEFAS through our service-level agreement with it.

As for making available additional financial resources, it is our view and our intention, which we point to in our White Paper, that some of the money raised from tendering—new quota and new fishing opportunities as we depart from relative stability—could be available for this purpose, to support additional investment in science. It is entirely reasonable to say that, as we gain additional fishing opportunities, some of the money raised from that should support science. It is also my view that some of the money from the discard prevention scheme could also go to supporting science, particularly to support more selectivity. Finally, clause 31, which we will obviously come on to, includes lots of provisions and purposes that will enable us to collect data and information relating to catches, which would inform our scientific knowledge.

Therefore, I understand the important point that the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport and my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney are making—we do need to fund science—but I do not think that it is appropriate to put that in these particular clauses. However, it is something that we are absolutely committed to doing. Indeed, I hope that when we consider the Bill on Report I will be able to give more information on how we intend to focus the discard prevention levy or charge and any moneys raised from the tender of future fishing opportunities to support this scientific objective.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I must say that I am troubled by a number of things that the Minister has said in his response. Given that the Government have not yet committed to replacing every single penny within the EMFF funding for our coastal communities, I do not think that we should base opposition to this amendment on trust that Treasury Ministers will side with us when it comes to delivering out the pennies because, quite simply, I do not trust the Treasury to fund our fishery science sufficiently on this issue. That is why an amendment that would provide for the Secretary of State to give factual assistance on the basis of supporting science is an absolutely key part of this process, because it would send a message about the tone and clarity that the Government are seeking to create that the funding of fishery science, the funding of stock levels and the funding of the ability to address data deficiency is a key priority.

We have already heard that there are a number of aspects to the Bill that are troubling in relation to the lack of clarity on data funding, and I have to say that I found the Minister’s reply unconvincing. I am glad that he is considering bringing elements back on Report, because clearly there is a problem here that he and his team have highlighted. I think this area is very important, so I will not withdraw the amendment.

Question proposed, That the amendment be made.

Division 12

17 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 6
Noes: 9

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details
The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 111, in clause 28, page 16, line 25, at end insert—

“(1A) The Secretary of State must conduct a consultation on exercising the power to give financial assistance under subsection (1) to promote the development of sustainable public access to recreational fishing opportunities for the fish catching sector and leisure and tourism industries, taking into account socio-economic factors.”

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 25—Recreational fishing

“(1) When any provision of this Act, including provisions inserted into other Acts by this Act, requires or permits the Secretary of State to consult with any person considered appropriate, the Secretary of State must consult with persons representing the practice of recreational fishing.

(2) The Secretary of State shall publish an annual report providing an assessment of the extent to which the provisions of this Act have—

(a) promoted recreational fishing, and

(b) had economic benefits attributable to the promotion of recreational fishing by the provisions of this Act.

(3) The first report under subsection (2) shall be published no more than 12 months after this section comes into force.”

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to consult on providing financial assistance for the promotion of recreational fishing, and to include representatives of recreational fishing when conducting a consultation under any other provisions of the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

On Second Reading, I said that recreational fishing is entirely absent from the Bill at a meaningful level and that is not good enough. Recreational fishing is a vibrant, growing and important part of our coastal communities and needs due recognition by Ministers in the Fisheries Bill. Labour’s proposals are designed to give recreational fishing the prominence that a sector of this economic size deserves.

In the evidence session held by the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday, Martin Salter from the Angling Trust talked about the vital economic link between recreational angling and coastal communities. The Bill is an opportunity to drive and create greater economic activity in our coastal communities. Mr Salter mentioned the booming recreational fishing sectors of Cape Cod and Florida, which are worth billions of dollars, as examples of what could be achieved in coastal communities in the UK. Wealth generated by recreational fishing boosts other industries such as tourism, including the bed-and-breakfast trade and all other aspects of hospitality and tourism.

Coastal communities depend on economic activity generated by the recreational fishing industry, but for recreational fishing to thrive and have a positive impact on our coastal communities, the industry needs investment, sustainable waters and healthy fish stocks. Amendment 111 would bring recreational angling within the new Government grants that will replace the European maritime and fisheries fund. The UK was allocated £190 million of EMFF funding for 2014 to 2020. It is vital that every penny from the EMFF be matched after we leave the European Union, but, sadly, Ministers have made no such commitment to date.

As well as the economic importance of recreational fishing to coastal communities, this activity plays a big part in the culture of those communities. Sea angling brings with it many social and health and wellbeing benefits. For children and young people, it is often their first experience of interacting with the natural world. The Bill must give us the ability to support recreational fishing. It could provide opportunities for young people to get involved in recreational fishing and encourage them to pursue a career or lifelong hobby in this sector. Nurturing this industry is crucial, because we know that that could lead to a renaissance of our coastal communities.

“Sea Angling 2012”, the study of recreational sea angling carried out by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, shows that total resident sea angler spending in 2012 was estimated to be £1.23 billion, equivalent to £831 million of direct spending, excluding imports and taxes. That directly supported 10,400 full-time jobs and almost £360 million of gross value added. The total economic impact was £2.1 billion of spending, supporting 23,600 full-time equivalent jobs and almost £980 million of GVA once indirect and induced effects were accounted for. That is a huge contribution to our coastal towns and cities.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is making a compelling case for including recreational fishing in the Bill. Does he agree that we are only starting to scratch the surface of the economic contribution that recreational fishing could make to our economy, and does he further agree that the Government could do so much to encourage, in particular, greater tourism into this country to take advantage of its great recreational fishing opportunities, if they were to highlight the importance of that in the Bill itself?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention: he is exactly right. Indeed, this weekend I had conversations with Destination Plymouth about the new tourism marketing plan for my own city. We were talking about how the value of recreational angling and sea fishing could be further embedded as part of the tourism product for the far south-west, which would create more jobs, so he is exactly right.

Coastal communities benefit when good fishing attracts anglers. Let us not tie any Minister’s hands but explicitly lay out in the Bill that they have the power to award recreational fishing the grants it needs to grow our economy and grow the love of our marine environment.

New clause 25 also relates to the ability to provide financial assistance for recreational fishing and its importance as part of the wider development of sustainable practices in recreational fishing. According to figures from DEFRA—the Minister’s own Department—recreational fishing and sea angling are worth about £2 billion to the UK economy, generate about 20,000 jobs and support thousands of coastal businesses. Sometimes the economic benefits of the recreational sector can outweigh those of the commercial sector, but as we have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd, it is not spoken about enough. We need to be louder and prouder about the contribution that recreational angling can make to our coastal towns.

In this Committee’s evidence sessions on the Bill, the Angling Trust rightly said that one of the “great failures” of the common fisheries policy was the failure to recognise recreational angling as a legitimate stakeholder in European fisheries. The Bill could put right that failure of the CFP. We could do that today by stating in the Bill that the UK Government recognise recreational sea angling as a direct user and legitimate stakeholder in the fisheries. That would be a win-win situation, as it would add to the very welcome news that we will have access to EMFF funding—I hope the Minister will confirm that. We need recreational fishing to be loud and proud on the face of the Bill, to send a message to the people engaged in the sector that we want that part of the economy to grow further, and that we value it.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I agree with just about everything the hon. Gentleman has said. This is a good example of how a small measure of Government investment could have a transformative effect and bring manifold returns. Some decades ago, the Highlands and Islands Development Board installed mooring buoys throughout the highlands and islands, which allowed many yachtsmen and other sailors to enjoy that part of the countryside. It brought in a tremendous amount of income, and tourism burgeoned over the years. The same is possible for those who are trying to increase recreational angling.

The hon. Gentleman’s amendment is very modest: it requires that consultation be held. It does not bind any Minister or future Minister to do anything. It is pretty clear that if we just leave this and wait for something to happen, it almost certainly never will.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I declare an interest: my brother is a keen angler who targets bass off the Cornish coasts, so I regularly hear from him about these issues.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am also a recreational sea angler for bass. Does the Minister agree that we could do much more for our economy in many parts of the country—not just the south-west, but off Wales and Scotland—if we did more to promote the prospect of bass angling?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It would be something if we could conserve bass. Indeed, that will be another important agenda item at this year’s December Council.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the Minister agree that one of the ways in which we might conserve bass is by reserving those stocks solely for recreational angling?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I would not reserve them solely for recreational angling, but I have been in the vanguard of arguing for them to have a more generous bag limit than the Commission has hitherto granted.

I know that the Angling Trust has been promoting the amendment, and I am a big fan of Martin Salter. I bumped into him after the evidence session when he raised these points, and I said that I felt that he had a rather “glass half empty” view. As the shadow Minister knows, clause 28(1)(e) is absolutely explicit that we are creating powers to give financial assistance for

“the promotion or development of recreational fishing.”

That is a first. The EMFF and the European schemes have never had any provision whatever for targeted grant support for recreational angling.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Hartlepool has a much-depleted offshore fleet these days, so recreational fishing is very much in the ascendency, particularly because we have got wrecks that generate good fish stocks. Does the Minister agree that that is important for tourism?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Yes, I very much agree. I hail from a Cornish constituency that is surrounded by water, so recreational angling is an important tourist activity. These issues are indeed very important. I have seen estimates that put the commercial value of recreational fishing at about £2 billion. We always have to be slightly suspicious of some of these figures, but there is no doubt that it is a commercially important sector.

Amendment 111 and new clause 25 seek to achieve slightly different things. With respect to amendment 111, I do not think that it is necessary to require a consultation, since in clause 28(1)(e) we have taken—for the first time and with very good reason—a power to give grants for recreational fishing. As I have said many times, DEFRA needs no encouragement to issue consultations. We have regular consultations on all sorts of issues—I think last year we had something like 50—and sometimes only a handful of people reply. I can guarantee the Committee that before introducing any grant scheme under clause 28(1), we would consult on its design and purpose, so I do not think that it needs to be placed in statute that we must run a consultation.

New clause 25, which seeks to address the issue from a slightly different angle, would require consultation on relevant provisions and the publication of an annual report to demonstrate how we are supporting recreational fishing. It is based on a potentially stronger argument than amendment 111, so I undertake to the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, that I will consider whether we can tweak clause 2 on Report to include among the socioeconomic purposes for coastal communities, to be set out in the Secretary of State fisheries statement, a specific reference to recreational fishing and the potential economics of it.

I think that that is the right way to address the issue, because the SSFS sets out our overall approach to the socioeconomics of fishing. Just as clause 2 is the right place to determine issues such as fishing opportunities for the inshore fleet, it might also serve the hon. Gentleman’s purpose if we make a tweak that refers specifically to recreational angling. He will understand that I need to have conversations across Government to get agreement for that, but having spoken to Martin Salter of the Angling Trust, I think that such a change would go some way towards mollifying his fears—he might even end up taking a “glass half full” view of the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have seen Mr Salter with a glass full or half full on many occasions.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has; I think I have, too.

Having given an undertaking to look specifically into the possibility of making reference to recreational angling in the SSFS, where it best sits, I hope that the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport will not see the need to press his amendment.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the Minister for taking recreational sea angling and fishing so comprehensively on board in his response. It is good to hear that he intends to issue a consultation before any powers under clause 28(1)(e) are used. That commitment delivers on the intent of our amendment 111, and I am pleased that he is taking on board the concern expressed by recreational fishers that they should be given greater prominence in the Bill.

With respect to new clause 25, I will look carefully at what the Minister brings back on Report. There is an opportunity to do much more on recreational fishing; if he brings back the new clause, the Bill will be the better for it. On the basis of the commitments he has given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 4

Financial assistance

Question proposed, That the schedule be the Fourth schedule to the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Committee has already discussed the substance of the issues to which schedule 4 relates. The schedule will allow Wales and Northern Ireland to establish grant schemes after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Its provisions essentially mirror those set out in clause 28, which provide powers to introduce schemes of financial assistance for industries related to fish or fish farming, as well as for the purpose of improving the marine and aquatic environment or—as we have just discussed—promoting recreational fishing. The powers replace and broaden existing domestic funding powers, which are in the Fisheries Act 1981.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 4 accordingly agreed to.

Clause 29

Power of Marine Management Organisation to impose charges

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I call Peter Aldous to move amendment 97.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I will speak briefly, because this amendment covers the issues that I addressed in my previous two amendments, and which the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport also referred to. As far as the future funding of science is concerned, I was reasonably content with the response that the Minister provided. I look forward to seeing the further details, to which he referred, on Report. I acknowledge and take on board his explanation that it is not appropriate for IFCAs to be funded in this particular way. On that basis, I will not be moving the amendment.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In that case we will move on to an amendment that will be moved. I call Luke Pollard potentially to move amendment 70.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 70, in clause 29, page 17, line 42, leave out “negative” and insert “affirmative”.

I am definitely moving the amendment, which seeks to remove the negative procedure in relation to clause 29 and replace it with the affirmative procedure. The amendment reflects concerns expressed by fishers about the increasing powers of the MMO, which is developing the ability to impose charges without sufficient accountability and scrutiny of that work.

The amendment is designed to catch the Minister’s eye so that he can reassure us that the MMO will use any powers it is given wisely, to ensure that charges are proportionate and, importantly, that before any charges are imposed, there is sufficient consultation with fishers to ensure that those charges are correct and proportionate.

Given the considerable amount of concern expressed by fishers, it is important that there is sufficient parliamentary procedure, which is why we suggest the affirmative procedure. However, if the Minister can give a good answer as to why that should not be required, I would be prepared to withdraw the amendment.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We have had a number of discussions about the use of the negative procedure. As I have pointed out before, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee considered the procedures for all delegated powers in the Bill and commented:

“Of the Bill’s 15 delegated powers that have a parliamentary procedure, only four are solely governed by the negative procedure, and justifiably so.”

It is usual for fees and charges imposed by arm’s length bodies to be set out in regulations made under the negative procedure. A recent example is the power of the Secretary of State to charge fees through regulations under the Ivory Bill, which will also use the negative procedure. We have considered the issue, but we think we have struck the right balance between the need for parliamentary scrutiny and the need to update MMO charges through secondary legislation.

If we were to accept this amendment and do use the affirmative procedure, every change made to the charges would have to go through an affirmative parliamentary process. We think that is excessive. We already have strict and tight Treasury guidance on when one can and cannot charge, and how one can charge for such charges that are passed on, and that is very much on a cost-recovery basis. That provision is set out in detail in other Government rules and guidance.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I invited the Minister to provide reassurance that the MMO would use the charging powers proportionately and subject to consultation. Could he say something about his approach to that?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I draw the hon. Gentleman’s attention to clause 29(7), which makes provision for consultation. I confirm that we would consult the industry before introducing such charges.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I appreciate that clarification. It is important that the Minister takes on board the concerns of fishers about the role and remit of the MMO in relation to the new powers that the Bill gives him. On the basis of the reassurance that he has given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 29 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 5

Power of Northern Ireland department to impose charges

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 76, in schedule 5, page 44, line 9, leave out “negative” and insert “affirmative”.

Briefly, the amendment seeks to amend schedule 5 to provide the affirmative resolution in relation to powers given to the relevant Northern Ireland Department. I would like to invite the Minister to comment.

Importantly, in the absence of devolution to the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly at the moment, as the Assembly is not sitting, how can we ensure that there is sufficient scrutiny of those powers to the devolved Administration? In others circumstances, whether in Wales or Scotland, the powers would be given appropriate scrutiny in those devolved bodies.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The solution to the problem that the hon. Gentleman highlights is to get a political Administration back in Northern Ireland. We have that challenge on many fronts; this is one of the lesser challenges we face in the absence of a political Administration in Northern Ireland.

Our intention is that the Bill is built to last and that it will give us a basis and a framework with which to manage fisheries for at least the next few decades—I hope so, but obviously things change. The Bill is therefore built in the expectation that a political Administration will be back in place in Northern Ireland, as it should be. Indeed, I am sure we all hope that that might even happen before the provisions of the Bill commence.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the lack of an Administration in Northern Ireland. We all know that the solution is not to amend the Bill but to get an Administration back in Northern Ireland. Again, I point out paragraph 7 of the schedule, which gives a clear undertaking that there must be a consultation before any regulations can be introduced under the negative procedure, even for Northern Ireland.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

On the basis of the Minister’s response, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the schedule be the Fifth schedule to the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Briefly, the schedule allows the Northern Ireland Department to make regulations to enable it to charge for its exercising of relevant marine functions. After the regulations are laid, the Northern Ireland Department will be able to charge to ensure that the taxpayer does not have to foot the bill for expenses related to fisheries. Through the change, it is intended that the Government should neither profit at the expense of the consumer nor make a loss. It is a cost-recovery provision, which mirrors what is in the clauses that we discussed earlier for England.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 5 accordingly agreed to.

Clause 30

Sea Fish Industry Authority: fees for services provided for industry in EU

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Sea Fish Industry Authority—Seafish—is a levy-funded, UK-wide body set up to promote the consumption of seafood, protect the reputation of the industry and provide information, evidence and advice for decision making in the supply chain. It may provide services for persons in the sea fish industry within and outside the UK. It is required to charge in full for such services provided to those from non-EU states, but section 3(5) of the Fisheries Act 1981 prevents it from charging those from EU states more than those from the UK. The clause will remove that provision.

We are including the clause in the Bill because the power in section 8(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 may not be used to make regulations that impose or amend fees. In practice, Seafish sets out all of its charges across recovery levels, so the clause will not result in any practical change. However, it is important that no distinction is made between services provided to EU and to non-EU companies once the UK leaves the EU.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 30 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 31

Power to make provision about fisheries, aquaculture etc

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The clause will provide the Secretary of State with the powers necessary to manage our fisheries when we leave the EU and operate as an independent coastal state, enabling us to comply with the UK’s international obligations, manage our fisheries and keep pace with changes to EU law. When we leave the EU, it will be vital that the UK has measures in place to implement its international obligations and to move away from the common fisheries policy measures incorporated in retained EU law under the EU withdrawal Act.

Fisheries, and the management of the impact of fisheries on the marine environment, are dynamic, changing throughout the year. To manage fisheries effectively, we need delegated powers to be able to respond quickly to scientific advice. The CFP is due to be reviewed in the next few years. We need to ensure that the UK can introduce measures where appropriate for UK fisheries management. The clause confers regulatory updating powers on the Secretary of State. Equivalent powers are conferred on Welsh Ministers and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland; we understand that Scotland will make its own legislative arrangements in respect of the powers set out in the clause.

The powers in the clause are necessarily quite broad in scope. In recognition of that, we have introduced several constraints to limit the powers as far as possible. They must be exercised for a purpose listed in subsection (1); they can only be exercised for the matters listed in subsection (4); and they cannot create criminal offences punishable by imprisonment. I hope I have been able to explain the purpose behind the clause, to ensure that we can have a dynamic and clear ability expeditiously to make minor technical changes to the technical conservation regulations that are important in fisheries.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Notwithstanding my earlier remarks, it is good to see the word “aquaculture” making it into the Government’s Bill at this point. I make fond mention of the occasion on which the Minister decided not to take amendments because of the mention of the aquatic environment. I am sure that aquaculture and the aquatic environment will make appearances later that will highlight the error of the Minister’s ways in his earlier remarks.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 31 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 32

Section 31: interpretation

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Briefly, the clause simply provides interpretation for certain terms related to fisheries used in clause 31. This is important to ensure that restrictions placed on the power in clause 31 are effective in limiting its scope to fisheries. It is a simple clause that deals with interpretation.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 32 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 33

Power to make provision about aquatic animal diseases

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The shadow Minister will note that the word “aquatic” has arrived again. However, this clause is slightly different, since it relates to replacing provisions dealing with fish health in particular once we leave the EU and lose some of the powers in the European Communities Act 1972.

The clause confers delegated powers on the Secretary of State to make changes to aquatic animal health legislation, as opposed to the management of the aquatic environment. Corresponding powers are conferred on Scottish and Welsh Ministers and DAERA in Northern Ireland by schedule 6. Primarily, the clause will ensure that the domestic aquatic animal health regime can be amended and updated after we leave the EU in order to preserve the UK’s high aquatic health status both in relation to aquaculture and the health of wild aquatic animals. The clause will allow the Secretary of State to regulate matters relating to the importation, exportation, movement, storage or handling of fish or other aquatic animals; products derived from fish; and any other thing that the Secretary of State considers may carry, or otherwise affects the prevalence of, a disease of fish or other aquatic animals.

The powers conferred by the clause will enable the UK to respond to new and emerging aquatic disease threats and disease outbreaks and to fulfil its international obligations as part of any future trade agreements. The clause is therefore essential to maintaining the high health status. I should point out that in 2009 the Diseases of Fish Act 1983 was repealed. We then relied on the European Communities Act 1972 to make changes to our regime for controlling fish and other aquatic diseases. The clause ensures that we have the powers we need to be able to continue to do that, as we lost the Diseases of Fish Act in the repeal of 2009 and we are now on the threshold of losing the powers that we have under the European Communities Act.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 33 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 34

Scope of regulations under section 31 or 33

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Clause 34 defines and limits the scope of regulation-making powers in clauses 31 and 33, ensuring that the devolved status of fisheries is respected. Subsection (1) allows for regulations made under clauses 31 and 33 to confer a function, including the imposition of fees. Subsection (2) allows for the creation of criminal offences, but not offences punishable by imprisonment. Subsection (3) states that regulations made under clauses 31 or 33 cannot include provisions that are within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Ireland Assembly unless the provision is merely incidental or consequential.

Subsection (4) further restricts the use of powers under clauses 31 and 33 as the regulations may not be used to modify functions held by Welsh Ministers in relation to the enforcement of sea-fishing licences and regulating the conduct of fishing operations. Subsection (5) restricts the use of powers under clauses 31 and 33 so that they may not modify fisheries administrations’ functions relating to the licensing of fishing boats under any of the provisions in clauses 9 to 13 and schedule 2. Finally, subsection (7) sets out the broad scope of the power to amend any enactment. That will be essential for modifying retained EU law after our exit from the European Union.

In summary, the clause places limitations on the exercise of powers in clauses 31 and 33, predominantly to ensure that there is no encroachment on the devolution settlement that we have. I beg to move that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 34 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 35

Scope of regulations under section 31 or 33 where consent obtained

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

This clause is about ensuring there is an ability—notwithstanding the fact that clause 34 is clear that it does not cut across the devolution settlement—to put in place a framework with the consent of each part of the UK so that a single authority can act with the consent of the others in an area that would otherwise be devolved. Subsections (1) to (3) require consent from the Scottish or Welsh Ministers or the Northern Ireland Department for regulations under clauses 31 and 33 to make provisions in areas of devolved competence. Subsection (4) requires consent from the Scottish and Welsh Ministers and the Northern Ireland Department for regulations on matters relating to powers to license fishing boats. I beg to move that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 35 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 36

Procedural requirements for regulations under section 31 or 33

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 71, in clause 36, page 22, line 24, leave out “negative” and insert “affirmative”.

Briefly, we tabled the amendment so that we could ask the Minister to explain why he believes that the negative procedure is the best option for this clause.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As I said, the Government have considered carefully the delegated powers in the Bill and the procedures that should apply to regulations. I will not rehearse the points I made about delegated powers and the precedents for this, but I will give the hon. Gentleman an indication of the technical issues that regulations under this part of the Bill may deal with. They may cover issues such as the catching, landing or selling of sea fish below a certain size—the minimum conservation reference size, as it is sometimes called—and the design of sea-fishing equipment. They may involve introducing a new selectivity measure for the squid fishery off the coast of his constituency, for instance. They may also involve minor issues to do with monitoring or enforcement of compliance.

We have a large number of technical conservation regulations under the existing common fisheries policy—some 90 bodies of regulations cover all sorts of things, from landing sizes to mesh sizes and from closures to prohibitions on landing small-eyed ray. Those are generally dealt with through delegated Acts that come from the Commission. We must have the power to make in-year amendments so that we can react quickly to changing circumstances by taking a stock off the prohibited list or putting it back on, and it is important that we have the ability to act expeditiously to manage our marine environment. Given that we have some 90 bodies of EU regulations and some 300 or 400 different technical regulations in total, I question whether there is appetite in this place for debating each and every one of those changes. The situation can be very dynamic and dozens of changes are made in a typical year.

On that basis, I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not see the need to press the amendment to a vote, and that I have been able to reassure him why we chose the negative resolution procedure rather than the affirmative procedure in this case.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have lost count of the number of debates I have sat through in which we discussed whether to use the negative or affirmative procedure—“must” or “may”—but on this occasion the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport hits on a substantial point.

As we heard, the scope of regulations made under clauses 31 and 33 is defined by clause 34, which provides inter alia in subsection (2) that regulations made under clauses 31 or 33

“may create a criminal offence, but not one punishable with imprisonment.”

I am not surprised that imprisonment is not included, because I suspect the bulk of the offences created would be committed primarily by bodies corporate rather than private individuals. Notwithstanding that, offences created by regulations of this sort often attract financial penalties that run to several thousand pounds—sometimes tens of thousands of pounds—so they are not insignificant.

I deeply regret not challenging the Minister on this point when we debated clause 34.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I draw the right hon. Gentleman’s attention to clause 36(2), which sets out clearly:

“Regulations under section 31 or 33 are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure”

if they cover a number of issues, including anything creating a criminal offence. Subsection (3) relates to the use of negative procedure on regulations left after those that fall under subsection (2) are taken out.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That answers my point. I do not think I need detain the Committee any longer.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I call the Minister—sorry, Mr Pollard.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

You are getting ahead of yourself, Mr Hanson. I am not a Minister yet, but the coming general election will be upon us soon.

I am grateful for the Minister’s response. As he said, there will be a large number of changes. He might want to reflect on how any changes made under negative procedure can be reported in the Secretary of State’s fisheries statements, even though it is not necessarily required to do so.

There is an opportunity. Because we are expecting the Minister to deliver so much change in the first couple of years after we leave the common fisheries policy, having it summarised and repeated annually would enable greater scrutiny and understanding of those changes. That would be beneficial not only for the fishing industry but for those who seek to scrutinise the work of Government. On the basis of the Minister’s response, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I think we covered the key parts of the clause earlier. I again simply highlight that it sets out a number of cases where it is appropriate to use the affirmative resolution procedure under subsection (2). That includes any regulations that impose fees or create a criminal offence. The remainder of the largely technical conservation measures that are of a lower order and need to be changed regularly are provided for under the negative resolution procedure under subsection (3).

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 36 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 37

Powers of Scottish Ministers, Welsh Ministers and NI department

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The clause simply serves to enable schedule 6, which will provide Scottish Ministers, Welsh Ministers and the Northern Ireland Department with the powers necessary to manage fishery and agriculture industries in line with devolved competences. In doing so, the clause is part of a framework that allows Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to meet their obligations under the UN convention on the law of the sea and the UN fish stocks agreement.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Labour party fully supports the clause pertaining to schedule 6, which we will elaborate on later.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 37 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 6

Powers to make further provision: devolved authorities

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 77, in schedule 6, page 45, line 43, leave out “negative” and insert “affirmative”.

We tabled the amendment because the schedule allows for the transfer of powers to Scottish Ministers and the power to make provisions on issues such as aquatic and animal diseases. The schedule will allow Scottish Ministers to make provisions for

“the purpose of monitoring, controlling, preventing or eradicating diseases of fish or other aquatic animals…in particular…provision regulating the importation, exportation, movement, storage or handling of…fish or other aquatic animals…products derived from fish or other aquatic animals…any other thing that the Scottish Ministers consider may carry, or otherwise affect the prevalence of, a disease of fish or other aquatic animals.”

We want to change that to an affirmative procedure because it will be a much better way of doing things.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The amendment is a step too far. There is sufficient protection for affirmative resolutions under clause 36 and paragraph 3(2) of the schedule, as the Minister pointed out. The Scottish Government need some leeway to be able to use the negative resolution procedure, and I do not think there is any need for this amendment. I would like to know whether the Labour party sought any assurances from the Scottish Government on whether they thought this amendment was necessary. I suggest that if the Scottish Government had wanted such an amendment, they would have tabled it themselves.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

This is in many ways a mirror amendment to one we discussed earlier. It is unusual for me to agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, but he makes an important point: if we have just agreed one set of provisions giving the right to use the affirmative or negative resolution for England, it would suggest that we do not trust Scotland if we said that all their resolutions should be subject to the affirmative procedure. What is good for one part of the UK should be good for Scotland as well. I do not think this amendment is appropriate.

I can confirm to the hon. Gentleman that this has been put in at the request of the Scottish Government. We worked closely with all the devolved Administrations to understand what they would like included in the Bill on their behalf, and this particular section dealing with the ability to fight aquatic diseases is understandably very important to Scotland, given that it has such a large salmon farming industry. It is at the request of the Scottish Government that this has been included in the way that it has. I think it is right that we treat the Scottish provisions in the same way that we treat the English provisions. I hope the shadow Front Bench will not see the need to press this particular amendment.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We have been pretty consistent throughout the process in saying that we think affirmative measures are better because they provide extra scrutiny and extra control, and we think that is beneficial.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

On that point, given that the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues consistently say that the Scottish Labour is the party of devolution, does he agree that if Labour is the party of devolution, it should respect devolution rather than trying to make legislation here that the Scottish Government have not asked for?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I do not think that is how devolution works. Devolution is a collaborative process. That is my reading of it. It is not a zero-sum game.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, even where the Government in Edinburgh have agreed something with the Government in London, neither Government should expect to be immune from scrutiny by Parliament?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I absolutely agree with that. In any system of democracy, at every tier there should be an element of interface and interaction, and that will be an ongoing process. It is not about a gradualist approach to independence, which is how the Scottish National party would like to view devolution. That is not how we view it. I will conclude, because there is no point in labouring this—pardon the pun—by saying that we accept that there is no agreement. It is unfortunate that we keep losing these votes on the negative emphasis versus the affirmative, but we are where we are in terms of the arithmetic. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the schedule be the Sixth schedule to the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We have already covered part 1 of schedule 6, which specifically relates to the powers taken for Scotland to manage aquatic and animal diseases. I will briefly comment on parts 2 and 3, which make provisions for both Welsh Ministers and the Northern Ireland Administration. Hon. Members will have noted that the provisions for Wales and Northern Ireland are different from those for Scotland in that parts 2 and 3 also have provisions that mirror clause 31. In other words, schedule 6 gives Welsh Ministers and the Northern Ireland Administration the ability to make those technical conservation measures that we discussed earlier in the context of clause 31 for England.

I should point out that at this stage that, when the Bill was drafted, Scottish Ministers said that they did not want those provisions included in the Bill on their behalf. We understood that at that point they might have been considering doing this themselves through their own legislation. However, we have recently been told by Scottish Ministers that that position has changed and they would like us to perhaps consider at a later stage of the Bill adding powers for Scotland akin to those afforded in parts 2 and 3 for Wales and Northern Ireland.

This is obviously an issue that we will discuss further with Scottish Ministers. It is complicated by the fact that they have not yet confirmed that they will grant a legislative consent motion for the Bill. Nevertheless, I thought I should highlight to members of the Committee why there is a difference between part 1 for Scotland, and parts 2 and 3 for Wales and Northern Ireland.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 6 accordingly agreed to.

Ordered,

That further consideration be now adjourned.—(Iain Stewart.)

Adjourned till this day at Seven o’clock.

Fisheries Bill (Tenth sitting)

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

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

† 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

Monday 17 December 2018

(Evening)

[Part I]

[David Hanson in the Chair]

Fisheries Bill

Clause 38 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 7

Powers relating to the exploitation of sea fisheries resources

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 68, in schedule 7, page 57, line 15, leave out “and” and insert “or”.

This amendment would amend the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to enable the Marine Management Organisation to make byelaws to protect marine features in circumstances where the need for protection is not necessarily urgent.

It is good to see that Government Members managed to refresh themselves appropriately during our short break. I will not carry on speaking until Opposition Members return. You will be pleased to hear, Mr Hanson, that we have a long oratory ahead of us about the protection of the marine environment and shipwrecks, so you can look forward to that. In all honesty, this should be relatively brief. It picks up on the discussion that we had on the aquatic environment the other day.

The amendment seeks to expand the remit to protect marine features when it is not specifically urgent to ensure we care for our marine environment proactively. I will not go on about shipwrecks too much; we have already been through a number of reasons why protecting them is important. However, last week when I referred to archaeological and historic features, the Minister contended that archaeology is addressed by marine licensing under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. It is important to note that fishing is not subject to marine licensing under the MCAA because licensing offers no protection in respect of wrecks. In addition, the Protection of Wrecks Act does not restrict fishing activity, and assurances were given during its introduction to that effect back in the ’70s:

“The situation of designated historic wreck sites is different. There will be no bar on any kind of fishing from the surface, either commercially or for sport.”—[Official Report, 4 May 1973; Vol. 855, c. 1706.]

So said a politician in the ’70s, long before I was born. A member of the Lords said:

“My Lords, the Bill does not prohibit navigation, anchoring, fishing or bathing within these restricted areas, except when those activities amount to obstruction of an authorised salvage operation.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 17 May 1973; Vol. 342, c. 931.]

That is why the Opposition believe that it is necessary to have specific provisions for archaeological and historic features within fisheries legislation. I am grateful for the support of the Honor Frost Foundation Steering Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage, which dug out those records from the 1970s. The amendment is necessary to ensure that underwater and aquatic environments are protected, especially the historic wreck sites. Will the Minister address those concerns?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the shadow Minister for his contribution. The real purpose of schedule 7 is to make consequential amendments to the Marine and Coastal Access Act to ensure that the suite of powers contained in the Act, to make byelaws both within and outwith marine conservation zones, can be extended to the English offshore region: the zone that would currently be affected predominantly by EU law and the common fisheries policy.

Amendment 68 proposes deleting the word “and” and inserting the word “or”. The schedule states that

“there...may be reasons for the Secretary of State to consider whether to designate the area as an MCZ”.

The amendment would add the word “or” before the phrase,

“that there is an urgent need to protect the feature.”

New section 9 specifically relates to section 132 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act and the designation of marine conservation zones. It gives the powers to designate in those zones where there is an MCZ and where there is an urgent need to protect a feature: in other words, where it is under consideration to designate a zone as a marine conservation zone, but there is an urgent threat to that emerging policy and therefore a need to act expeditiously.

In the narrow context in which paragraph 9 operates, which is simply around the designation of marine conservation zones, the use of “and” is the appropriate link between paragraphs (2)(1A)(a) and (2)(1A)(b) because they are interdependent. This particular power would be used in circumstances only in which someone intended to have a marine conservation zone. Other parts of schedule 7, not least paragraph (6), set out broader byelaw-making powers that can be used, whether or not the feature that somebody attempts to protect is in a designated marine conservation zone.

I hope that I have been able to explain to the hon. Gentleman why “and” is used in the paragraph—because the sub-paragraphs are interdependent—rather than “or”, which suggests that they should stand alone. As I said, this is within the narrow context of a soon to be designated marine conservation zone.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the Minister for his remarks. I suspect that his officials will revisit provisions on the protection of wrecks when the Bill goes to the House of Lords. The Minister will be relieved that he will not have to repeat his speech about the aquatic environment for a bit.

Importantly, the purpose of the amendment on protecting our marine heritage is to make sure that conflict between fishing and the protection of our natural and marine heritage sites on the seabed is understood and managed in advance of its arising. However, on the basis of the Minister’s remarks, and in anticipation of our friends down the corridor making similar forceful arguments on the basis of what the Minister said, I am happy to withdraw the amendment at this time. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the schedule be the Seventh schedule to the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Schedule 7 simply defines the byelaw-making powers, provided for under clause 38, conferred on the Marine Management Organisation and Ministers of the devolved Administrations for the enforcement of marine conservation standards. Schedule 7 defines the scope and procedure for creating byelaws in the UK’s exclusive economic zone by the MMO in England and Northern Ireland, or Ministers in Scotland and Wales, for the purpose of protecting the UK’s marine environment.

Paragraph 1 introduces an amendment to the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, and paragraphs 2 to 5 address the nomenclature in that Act. Paragraphs 6 to 10 insert new clauses into the Act, providing the Marine Management Organisation with byelaw-making powers within the English offshore region for the purpose of preserving marine flora or fauna, marine habitats or types of marine habitat.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 7 accordingly agreed to.

Clause 39

Regulations

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 67, in clause 39, page 23, line 30, at end insert—

“(4A) Before making any regulations under this Act, the Secretary of State, Scottish Ministers, Welsh Ministers or the Northern Ireland department (as the case may be) must consult with affected stakeholders”.

This amendment would require the Secretary of State Scottish Ministers, Welsh Ministers or the Northern Ireland department to consult with affected stakeholders before making regulations.

The Minister is keen to say that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consults constantly and does not need legislation to help make sure that it does so. However, there are already some requirements in the Bill to consult, and Government amendment 6 added another duty to consult in clause 22, in response to a recommendation from the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. Our amendment 67 simply seeks to put in place consistent duties to consult on all regulations provided for in the Bill.

As we have discussed, this duty is particularly important for regulations that receive less parliamentary scrutiny, or none at all, to make sure that affected individuals, businesses and communities have an adequate opportunity to make their views known before the law is put in place—especially when laws are introduced afresh after we leave the European Union. I am sure that the Minister will have spotted other duties to consult in clauses 19, 29, 36, and schedule 1, which requires an element of consultation on the joint fisheries statement, as well as schedules 5, 6 and 7. Our amendment seeks to make sure that, before any regulations are made, there is sufficient consultation with the relevant stakeholders.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The amendment refers to Scottish Ministers. Will the hon. Gentleman explain how it would work in practice? Who would decide whom Scottish Ministers had to consult? If they were somehow deemed not to have consulted the relevant stakeholders, what would be the repercussions? Would the matter be reported back to the Westminster Government? Clearly the Scottish Government are responsible for their own legislation.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not trying to suggest that the Scottish Government would make any regulations without consulting Scottish communities.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Correct.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Therefore the point should be moot. The important thing is how disputes are regulated and managed in the Bill. We need to ensure that it gives confidence to environmental stakeholders operating in the sector, whether they are businesses, fishers or coastal communities, that they will be adequately consulted before any regulations are made under clause 39. It is an important principle to enshrine in the Bill that there must be sufficient good-quality consultation before any regulations are made.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport points out, we have included an explicit requirement in some clauses to consult where appropriate, generally in cases that raise specific issues that have a bearing on cost recovery, on the proposed sale of fishing opportunities—as in our new clause 22 —or on devolved Administrations. However, I do not think it appropriate to have a statutory requirement to consult on every single measure that might be introduced under the Bill. Such a requirement would be very unusual; the Department’s existing statutory obligations to consult relate predominantly to issues of food safety and food standards. As I have said before, we generally do not need encouragement to consult. Many consultations come across my desk; I often ask officials whether a consultation is really required, but our very strict internal Government guidelines and Cabinet Office guidance mean that we consult regularly on most issues.

I envisage that most of the issues covered by the Bill would be subject to a consultation. We have chosen to introduce a statutory requirement to consult on very significant matters—those that have cost implications for industry or potentially serious implications for the relationship with devolved Administrations—but that does not mean that we will not consult on many, many other provisions in the Bill. Indeed, I anticipate our doing so, but I do not believe that it would be appropriate to put that in the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the Minister for his response, but it is a bit disappointing. The principle of consultation is a fine one. I note what he says about DEFRA undertaking a range of consultations during his time as a Minister, but winning the confidence and trust of the fishing industry after Brexit will depend on any changes to the rules having its full consent and support, whether those changes relate to quota allocation, safety, licensing or any other aspect of fishing. The best way of achieving that is by following the principle of consulting. However, as the Minister has effectively committed to consulting on the key things, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 39 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 40 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 41

Extent

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Clause 41 simply confirms that the extent of the Bill is the whole of the United Kingdom, except in relation to schedule 6. It is a standard clause that appears in all Bills. Schedule 6 sets out the powers of the Welsh Ministers, the Scottish Ministers and the Northern Ireland Department. The Bill extends certain provisions to the Crown dependencies as a result of the UK representing them at an international level.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 41 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 42

Commencement

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 112, in clause 42, page 26, line 29, after “Sections” insert

“(Fisheries agreement between the UK and the EU), (Amendments that could have been made under existing powers) and”.

This amendment would ensure that NC22 and NC4 are commenced on the day of Royal Assent.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 22—Fisheries agreement between the UK and the EU.

Government new clause 4—Amendments that could have been made under existing powers.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

New clause 22 is a significant new clause that the Government have tabled to address some concerns that have been raised in the context of the draft withdrawal agreement, which has returned. As hon. Members will be aware, the draft withdrawal agreement that the House will consider in the new year contains a provision that says that, in the event of there being a future partnership and an agreement with the European Union, it will be necessary by July 2020 to have in place a new framework agreement for fisheries management between the EU and the UK.

New clause 22 simply sets out in statute a point of Government policy that was set out very clearly in our White Paper. As we leave the European Union and become an independent coastal state, it is our clear intention to move away from the current relative stability shares of quota, which are unfair on the British fishing industry, and move towards something that is closer to zonal attachment for the majority of stocks—that is to say, it is about where the stocks reside. The effect of new clause 22 is to place a statutory obligation on the Government not to agree continued access at the current level for the European Union unless we receive an increase in fishing opportunities and secure that all-important departure from relative stability. That means that, in the event of our putting together a new partnership with the European Union, it will not be possible for the Government to conclude the partnership unless our fishing industry sees an increased share of the total allowable catch in return for that continued access.

The approach that we seek to take is similar to what already happens with the EU-Norway agreement, where a framework agreement runs for a number of years but certain presumptions underlie it. The presumption that will underlie our future economic partnership with the European Union, in so far as it relates to fisheries, is that, in return for granting continued access to the European Union, the quid pro quo for the British fleet will be a fairer share of the total allowable catch, which goes above and beyond that which is set out in the current relative stability shares.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I appreciate that the Minister is trying to put up a smokescreen by saying that this is a very important new clause and that this is the right place for it, but this justifies the critique of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Sue Hayman), who said that the Bill was hurried out too quickly, and that its implications had not been fully understood. An element as important as the Minister suggested new clause 22 is should have been included in the Bill in the first instance, and not added only when the political problems with the withdrawal agreement emerged.

I have a number of questions about the new clause. It includes the new term “Union fishing boats”. Will the Minister set out how that differs from the term “foreign fishing boats”, which is used in the rest of the Bill? We must make sure there are no loopholes that can be exploited in relation to the distinction between Union and foreign fishing boats.

In the event of what some in the fishing industry regard as the inevitable sell-out by people above his pay grade, can the Minister tell me how this Bill would be changed when there is potentially no additional quota or fish allocated to UK fishers? Can that be done for this part of the Bill under the Henry VIII powers that the Government possess, or would it require new primary legislation to alter this part of the Bill, in the event that there is a betrayal of fishers in any future negotiations? I ask that because the experience of fishing is that it was promised that it would be excluded from the transition period, only to find that those promises from the Secretary of State and indeed the fisheries Minister himself were worth nothing, which remains a very raw sore for many of our colleagues in the fisheries sector. There are some important aspects to this.

The principle is one that I can support: we should get a fairer share of fish. Relative stability has poorly served our coastal communities and fishing industry, and the move to zonal attachment is one that is supported by Labour as well as the Government. How that is done is uncertain in this Bill, and what promises will be delivered is also uncertain in this Bill, because so many of those promises will be subject to the further negotiation that will follow if any deal is done and then if any economic and future partnership is put in place.

There is an awful lot of uncertainty in relation to that, and I would be grateful if the Minister could set out how the Bill can be changed should there be a betrayal of the fishing industry, and if he could explain the distinction between “Union” and “foreign” fishing boats.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Essentially, my position is not much different from that of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport. I fear that the Minister perhaps slightly oversells the importance of new clause 22 as it is drafted. Largely, it is yet another statement of good intent. Ultimately, the extent to which these intentions are delivered will be determined by the political will and authority that is put into them by the Government.

We know that something in the region of 40% of the fish caught in UK waters comes to the UK. When the Minister talks about fairer shares, he has—let us say—some significant leeway. If he or any of his successors were to deliver a deal that produced 41% or 42%, then by definition it would be a fairer share, but it would be far from the promises that were made to the industry at the time of the referendum.

I have no objection to new clause 22; I certainly would not vote against it. It is useful to have a clause of this sort in the Bill, but it is capable of being improved. I think that is something we will consider on Report.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

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

I think I am slightly more cynical than the previous two contributors. We know this was a much-trailed new clause, which was intended to give reassurance to the Brexiteers that the fishing industry will not be sold out. It was actually intended to sway those MPs, or, as the Minister put it earlier, convince those with concerns about the withdrawal agreement. Given the current chaos that the Government are still in, can the Minister say how that has gone, in terms of convincing those MPs that all is good thanks to this new clause?

Also, considering that throughout the sittings of this Committee the Government have voted down amendments that they say do not need to be in the Bill or that are covered elsewhere, particularly statements of good intent, it seems to me that this new clause is one of those superfluous clauses, which normally the Government themselves would speak out against.

I would not quite say that the new clause is in “Yes, Minister” language, but it is certainly drafted with loose language that is not particularly binding. Subsection (2) states:

“The Secretary of State must pursue the following two objectives”.

The “objectives” are things that we can actually agree on, so that is all well and good, but being asked to pursue something and being duty-bound to deliver it are vastly different propositions. We can ask anybody to pursue something, but the likelihood of them getting an outcome is slightly different.

Subsection (3) says:

“The first objective is that the agreement should provide for annual negotiations”.

Again, I agree that that is desirable, but clearly it is non-binding. It says “should” and we cannot bind the EU, the other side. That in itself stands out.

Subsection (4) is the standalone objective, which is that EU

“boats are not granted access to UK waters in any year unless the fishing opportunities…are…greater than those…available under relative stability”.

Again, that is fine as an objective, but no one expects EU boats to be banned outright from UK waters.

Subsection (5) provides a real get-out clause for the Secretary of State, because it provides for him or her to be the one who assesses whether the opportunities are greater than they would otherwise have been under the CFP. Where is the transparency in that assessment? How will it be carried out and who will be able to challenge it?

In many ways, the new clause is pointless, put in as a political means to an end—to sway Brexiteers, although it has not even been able to do that. I would like to hear the Minister’s views on that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I wondered whether during the break too many hon. Members had spoken to Martin Salter—there are a lot of “glass half empty” perspectives.

Since the Bill was published and Second Reading, we have had the conclusion of the withdrawal agreement, which is now before the House. That final withdrawal agreement included the reference to the need to have a plan in place by July 2020. Concerns were expressed that fisheries might be bargained away, as a number of hon. Members have said. I therefore think that it is absolutely right, since it is not at all the intention or plan of the Government to do such a thing, that we put in place on the face of the Bill, in statute, the safeguard to ensure that we get a fairer share of the total allowable catch in exchange for future access.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Again with reference to the language of “should” and “pursue”, how does the new clause—even when in statute—stop future trade agreements or even the final outcome of the EU withdrawal Bill, with the backstop and so on, doing something else? How does the new clause prevent the other scenarios under the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Because the second objective is clear: as a consequence of giving access to our waters, we want a fairer share of the total allowable catch. Having seen a few fisheries negotiations now, they have—put simply—three key variables: overall size of the catch for each stock, or the total allowable catch, and we argue each year about the science on each stock; the allocation of those stocks, or who gets what slice of the cake, and at the moment we get a very unfair slice of many stocks, in particular down in the channel and in the west country; and, finally, the issue of access.

In any fisheries negotiation, access is the trump card, because when push comes to shove, we can say to countries fishing in our waters, “If you think that you can catch that quantity of fish to have that share of the total allowable catch, catch them in your own waters.” That flushes out the positions of other states in that negotiation. As a country, we are in a powerful position, because within our exclusive economic zone we have a very large fisheries resource to which many other countries seek to have access. The quid pro quo for future access to that stock will be that we have a fairer share of the total allowable catch—that is a normal dynamic in any fisheries negotiation. That is the approach we will take.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I accept there is an opportunity for a greater share going forward, but the Minister is saying that if this measure is in statute, we move to that position quicker. Will he explain why the new clause will prevent the UK from getting into the backstop situation? How is that compatible with the backstop?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In a backstop situation, there is no withdrawal agreement, and there is no need for a fisheries agreement with the EU. That said, we would probably still seek to put one in place. In a backstop situation, however, the default is that we have complete control over access to our waters, there is no agreement on fisheries and there are no undertakings to give any access to the EU at all. It is also the case that in the backstop situation there would be tariffs on fisheries products that go into the European Union. That is the position as far as the backstop is concerned.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the Minister accept that in the backstop there would not be tariffs on fish exported from Northern Ireland, but there would be tariffs on fish exported from the Great Britain mainland, thereby putting Scottish and other UK fisherman at a disadvantage compared with Northern Ireland?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My understanding is that in the backstop there would be tariffs on all fish from the UK.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

indicated dissent.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I will clarify that before the end of the debate, but principally, yes. The principle of the backstop—which we all want to avoid—is that there would not be tariff-free trade in fisheries products, but equally we would not be obliged to give any access to our waters.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Subsection (5) of the new clause talks about the opportunities that would have been available for that year under the common fisheries policy. Will there be some kind of sunset clause to the new clause? As time goes on and the common fisheries policy becomes more of a distant memory, it will be very difficult to calculate what the UK would have been able to get under the CFP in five or ten years’ time. I can see how that would work for the next two or three years, but in five, 10, 15 or 20 years’ time, the calculation will be very difficult, if not impossible, to make.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend makes a fair point, but we will know what the relative stability shares on each stock are at the point that we leave. Indeed, the relative stability share is what it says on the tin—relative stability means that nothing changes. The shares that we have for each stock have not actually changed since the early ’80s, and we can still reference today’s shares based on what was agreed in the late ’70s and early ’80s. This is not a dynamic process; relative stability is set in concrete. That is part of the problem for us.

The shadow Minister asks why we refer to “Union” vessels rather than “foreign” vessels. The point is that there are foreign vessels seeking access to our waters from countries that are not members of the European Union, principally Norwegian, Faroese and Icelandic vessels. Therefore, “Union” vessels specifically refers to the EU fleet, rather than those from other third countries, which are not covered, although we would apply the same principles. He also asked whether the provision could be changed. It could be changed with primary legislation, but this particular provision could not be changed with a statutory instrument of the sort that he outlined. I believe that new clause 22 is an important new clause that clearly sets down the Government’s approach to getting a fairer share of the total allowable catch on these stocks in exchange for any future access. I beg to move the Government’s new clause 22 and amendment 112.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We will come to the new clauses later in proceedings. The proposals before us at the moment is amendment 112 to clause 42.

Amendment 112 agreed to.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 110, in clause 42, page 26, line 29, after “43” insert “and section (Fishing industry skills strategy)”.

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to publish within 12 months of the Act coming into force a skills strategy for the fishing industry after consultation.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 24—Fishing industry skills strategy

‘(1) Within 1 year of this section coming into force, the Secretary of State must publish a strategy for skills, employment and economic regeneration for the fishing industry.

(2) Before publishing a strategy under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must consult with—

(a) the Scottish Ministers,

(b) the Welsh Ministers,

(c) the Northern Ireland department,

(d) representatives of the fishing industry,

(e) any other person the Secretary of State considers appropriate.’

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Amendment 110 and new clause 24 both aim to tackle one of the key issues currently facing the fishing industry, namely the shortage of skills and the potential for growing employment. Talking to those in the industry, I regularly hear concerns about the difficulty of attracting the next generation into fishing and the fears of people already engaged in the industry about the loss of European workers after Brexit. That is especially the case for those fishers in the north of England and Scotland.

We know that many crews contain no one under the age of 40. If boats are to capitalise on any increased quota in future, we will need a new approach to training and skills. By requiring the Secretary of State to publish a strategy for dealing with these issues, we hope that this problem will finally be taken seriously and steps put in place to address the skills and people shortages in fishing.

We appreciate the important role played by Seafish, the non-departmental public body sponsored by DEFRA. We are concerned, however, that Ministers have at times passed off their responsibility for training and skills by suggesting that that is mainly a matter for Seafish, not them. On this issue, we need leadership and strategy from the top, which is what the amendment seeks to create.

Looking at the Government’s approach, it may be helpful to remind hon. Members of what the Minister previously set out. In a debate last year, he said:

“To secure the skilled workforce that the food, farming and fisheries sector needs for the future, Government and industry must work in partnership to prioritise training and skills.”

He went on to highlight their industrial strategy and said that it would include

“skills as one of its core pillars”,

as well as reforms to apprenticeships and the post-16 plan that features T-levels, which he said would create

“clear routes into the sector.”—[Official Report, 25 April 2017; Vol. 624, c. 478WH.]

There is not time to pore over the Government’s entire skills strategy in detail, but it is worth looking at where we are on the areas that the Minister previously highlighted and why that demonstrates the need for a dedicated fishing industry skills strategy.

Although the industrial strategy is more than 250 pages long and contains plenty of general skills policy, it does not mention fish or fishing once, which seems to show a disappointing lack of cross-departmental working between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It is all well and good for the Minister to state his commitment to improving fishing skills, but if he cannot convince his Government colleagues to mention fishing in the strategy papers, the problem will not receive the attention that all hon. Members present think it deserves. The obvious solution is for DEFRA to launch its own skills strategy with reference to what BEIS, the Department for Education and those in the devolved Administrations are doing, which the amendment would deliver.

On apprenticeships, we agree that they are a vital means of training up the next generation. The Whitby Fishing School, which has offered apprenticeships aimed at those newly entering the industry, is a good example. Andrew Hodgson, its business development manager, told The Daily Telegraph last year:

“We need some young blood coming in otherwise the industry is going to die a death.”

He is right.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Holly Lynch) visited the school, however, she found that it was experiencing difficulties in securing funding for courses. She discovered that the school finds it incredibly difficult to deliver courses that truly equip young people to work at sea and that tick the relevant boxes to secure funding for that training. The school had asked the Government to reflect on whether the framework in place for developing apprenticeships and training programmes was fit for purpose in attracting and retaining the fishers of tomorrow. We hope that a new skills strategy could provide the answers to those exact questions.

On T-levels, the Government have said that the subject range of T-level programmes will be defined by the Institute for Apprenticeships’ occupational maps. We are glad that fishermen are mentioned in the maps, but under the agriculture operative/technician cluster. Looking more closely at how T-levels will function, it is T-level panels that will develop the outline content for qualifications. Those panels are currently made up of employers that define the skills and requirements for the qualifications.

When we analysed the Government’s picks for the agriculture, land management and production panel, which includes fishing, we were disappointed that not a single member was listed from the fishing industry. The Minister may be able to provide some explanation for that, but it certainly appears that T-levels, on their current design, will not provide any real focus on sorting out the skills shortages in fishing as a priority. Can the Minister also confirm that any T-levels that could cover fishing are not expected to be delivered until at least 2022? It is clear that the lack of detail about T-levels and fishing further proves the need for a dedicated skills strategy for the fishing industry.

Because of the effect that Brexit might have on the number of EU nationals able and willing to work at sea, an already dire recruitment situation is in danger of becoming catastrophic, particularly in several geographic locations around the UK. We face the real risk of fishers walking away from the industry as they cannot staff their boats. I hope that the Minister can offer some reassurance on that issue, which is made pressing by Brexit, and that hon. Members will consider backing this important amendment.

In particular, I ask the Minister to have words with his colleagues in the Home Office, who still do not regard fishing as a skilled profession. I challenge any Home Office Minister to go on a trawler and catch fish to see whether that is true or not.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As a former Home Office Minister, I never went anywhere near a fish.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Briefly, I support the amendment of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport in letter and spirit. This is not a new problem—it is not something that we would lay at the door of the current Government or any particular Government. The situation has been developing and getting gradually worse for years and years. The problem probably goes into much of what young people are told in schools: they see fishing as a dangerous occupation, requiring long hours at sea and long days’ work in difficult circumstances, and they are generally discouraged from it. It will take a long time to turn that around and get back to the stage where fishing communities produce young men who want to go into the fishing industry.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is no an overnight solution? We cannot just go to the local jobcentre and get a bunch of unemployed people; as the shadow Minister said, fishing is not an unskilled job. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association that it could take up to 10 years at least to get to a point where we are no longer dependent on foreign labour?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is almost certainly going to be the case, but it is effectively a guess, because none of us really knows. It took us a long time to get to this point, and the only thing that is certain is that it will take a long time to get from here. The length of time it takes will be determined by the effort that both the industry and the Government are prepared to put in to turning the situation around. That is why a strategy such as this, led by the Government but with proper buy-in from the industry, will be crucial.

It may well be that as the industry develops, people will of their own volition see it as a more attractive proposition for the future, but that is certainly not the case now. I am open to argument as to whether it is necessary to have this issue in the Bill, but I want to see some movement on it, because as the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport said at the end of his speech moving the amendment, we are in a quite dreadful situation at the moment, where fishing boats in parts of Scotland remain tied up because they cannot get the crew. We know that there are crew out there willing to work here, but they are unable to come here and we do not have the home-grown crew to put on those boats.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As the shadow Minister noted, as we leave the EU we will no longer have freedom of movement, but is it not the case, certainly in Scotland, that the vast majority of the foreign workers that the fishing industry is dependent on comes from outside the European economic area?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is very much the case. I think principally they are Filipinos, but there are some Ghanaians and people from other seafaring countries, and generally their contribution is very well regarded. I am constantly getting emails from skippers who are asking for a visa renewal for this or that individual. We are now in a bizarre situation where the only way we can get non-EEA nationals on to a boat is for them to have a transit visa—that is, they effectively come in as merchant seamen, which then requires the boats to operate outside territorial waters.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I certainly share some of the sentiments expressed by my colleagues. In particular, speaking to skippers on the west coast of Scotland, one of the major issues is getting people to crew the vessels. While it is admirable that there are discussions on developing a strategy, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the immigration policy has an immense part to play in securing staff for the vessels, and that the industry itself—which can be very financially rewarding, given the right climate and conditions—has an immense part to play in again attracting people to join it?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is absolutely the position. I know it is not the Minister’s responsibility and this is about the skills strategy, but every time we debate this, the Immigration Minister always says, “Well, of course, what we want to be doing is growing our own labour.” She is right about that; so here is an opportunity for the Government to follow through on their good intentions and ensure that we start to grow that labour for ourselves.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The right hon. Gentleman represents an island community; the distinctive needs of island communities must be reflected in this Bill. Does he recognise that the general trend is that fishing tends to be a family trade? Perhaps we could look at ways to ensure that the trade becomes something that people choose to migrate to island and highland communities for. Would that not be beneficial?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That would be beneficial. I can think of a number of people I have known over the years who have done exactly as the hon. Gentleman suggests. However, the pool will still be those who grow up in fishing industries, who—to pick up on the earlier point by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport—get their first interest piqued by recreational angling. Those living in island or coastal communities can become interested when all the opportunities are around them.

The Minister has been to the NAFC fisheries college in Scalloway, Shetland. He has praised its work, as we all do. It is a fantastic institution, but it lives pretty much hand to mouth. With the best will in the world, there are not the resources at the moment to ensure a secure future for an institution such as that. If that formed part of a strategy, which would have to be a wide exercise, there would be an obvious sea of opportunity for institutions such as that. I commend the hon. Gentleman for moving the amendment; I suggest it is significant and an opportunity for the Minister to make good some of the sentiments that we have heard from Ministers in other Departments.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Right hon. and hon. Members have raised a very important issue. They will appreciate that it is predominantly an issue on which other Departments lead, such as the Department for Education on apprenticeships. Immigration, particularly of non-EEA crews, which is a contentious issue in parts of the UK—notably in Northern Ireland and Scotland—is a matter for the Home Office. Nevertheless, I have made representations on behalf of the industry to Home Office Ministers. At a recent debate, I said I would go back and have that discussion again. Right hon. and hon. Members will appreciate that I have not quite had the time to do that yet, but it remains on my to-do list. I will engage on the matter of non-EEA crews with the Home Office in the new year.

When it comes to skills, I am aware that some specific fishing issues have meant that the apprenticeships model has not always worked as well as it should. One of the issues that the industry has raised is that there is a practice of giving a share of the catch value to the fishermen on crews, which does not always sit very easily with how apprenticeships are structured, because those involved have to be on a fixed salary to access them. There are some challenging issues, such as that one, which the Department for Education is looking at.

However, I want to limit my comments to what the fishing industry is doing. The seafood industry leadership group, which has been sponsored and supported by the levy body Seafish, has established a special authority to deliver its Seafood 2040 strategy. Part of that includes delivery of a single cross-sector seafood training and skills plan and supporting businesses in the seafood supply chain to recruit workers with suitable skills.

We recently announced an additional £37.2 million of funding for new projects approved under the European maritime and fisheries fund during 2019 and 2020. Some of those projects could include the delivery of skills and training. In addition, we have announced that the Government will put in place new domestic long-term arrangements to support the UK’s fishing industry from 2021, with new schemes to support that.

Across the country we have some centres of excellence for training when it comes to fisheries. In England, we have the Whitby & District Fishing Industry Training School, which has a great track record. As a mentioned earlier, I visited Shetland with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland a few years ago, which the marine training school is based. In recent years we have trained several hundred new fishermen through the various schemes, so it is not all bad news, but I recognise that there is more to do. In particular, that project of the seafood industry leadership group is best placed to pull together a skills plan in the area in question.

Skills is a devolved issue, and the inference with respect to new clause 24 is that there would be a UK-wide skills strategy, as there is a requirement to consult Scottish and Welsh Ministers and the Northern Ireland Department. I suspect that Scottish Ministers in particular would want rather more than a consultation on a devolved area. We can address the matter as England, and it will be for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to address it for themselves.

I hope that I have reassured the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport that I agree that this is an important issue and that there have been difficulties in the past with some design features of the apprenticeship scheme. We have raised those previously with ministerial colleagues and they have sought to address them. However, the new clause goes somewhat beyond the scope of the Bill, which deals with fisheries management and opportunities, rather than skills. Skills are a matter for a different Department.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I assure the Minister that we tried to get a lot of items selected that were outside the scope of the Bill. If we managed to sneak something in, that is because it is within the scope of the Bill, not outside as he suggests.

I am disappointed that the Minister did not pick up the gauntlet that the Opposition have set down, on the matter of skills, and take it more seriously. There is a skills crisis in the fishing industry and if we are to realise the opportunities that will come from Brexit, which the Minister has been so keen to extol, we will need more people in the fishing industry, in the catching and other sectors. That is why we need a cross-Government skills strategy—to support the development of skills across the UK.

The Minister mentioned that there are a number of areas of best practice, and indeed there are. Several places are doing a good job with skills, but the problem is that they are all struggling for funding and to make what they offer fit with other bits of Government policy that the Minister has set out. A skills strategy would present the opportunity to identify some of the problems and support areas of additional growth. The seafood industry leadership group seems to be on to the right thing, but I have said that it is not enough to allow Seafish and its other bodies to do all the work. We need senior leadership from Ministers, and, sadly, that did not seem to be forthcoming in the Minister’s response. On that basis, we shall not withdraw the amendment, but press it to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 13

17 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 6
Noes: 9

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details
The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 35, in clause 42, page 26, line 35, after “appoint” insert

“, provided such day shall not be later than 31 December 2020.”.

To ensure that the UK leaves the EU Common Fisheries Policy no later than December 2020.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 1, in clause 42, page 26, line 35, at end insert—

“(3A) The Secretary of State must make regulations under subsection (3) so that all provisions of this Act come into force no later than 31 December 2020.”.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The amendment would make clear in the Bill that, if the provisions of the clause have not been brought into force by the end of the transitional period—31 December 2020—they will come into force at that point. The context for the amendment is the decision taken by the Government in March to concede that fisheries should be part of the transitional arrangements.

The Committee heard evidence from several people that that decision ran rather contrary to the expectations of the industry. Promises had been made, including by the Prime Minister herself, that, come 29 March 2019, we would leave the common fisheries policy, and that that would be the end of the matter. Perhaps at some point somebody will tell me why it was thought necessary to include fisheries in the transitional arrangements. Barry Deas of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations said that it was because fisheries is part of the general acquis. Bertie Armstrong, from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, had a more political explanation, shall we say, saying that there were four or five countries that were not going to let the transitional arrangements go through unless fisheries were a part of it.

It is fair to say that the decision has caused a lot of angst and, indeed, anger in the fishing industry. There are historical reasons for that, which I will not go into in any great depth, but the Committee will know the references to the 1970s and those within the Heath Government who took the view that the industry was dispensable.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I certainly agree with the right hon. Gentleman. There is clearly a lot of anger in the fishing industry, which I am pretty sure will welcome the amendment. However, how would it work in reality? We have heard the Prime Minister say that she might extend the transitional arrangements instead of using the backstop. If we get the amendment in statute, in theory fisheries would need to be excluded from that extended transitional period. Is it not the reality that an international agreement might override the amendment, and that the Government would come back and amend it, even if it is in statute?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am not entirely sure about an international agreement overriding the amendment. This is primary legislation made by Parliament. In effect, if the Government anticipate breaking their further undertakings—that is to say that the UK would be out of the common fisheries policy at the end of 31 December 2020—the amendment, if accepted, would in turn require to be amended. That would be cumbersome, which is why the Minister will doubtless not like it, but that, of course, is why the industry wants it. I have not spoken to a single member of the industry or a single representative of any fishing organisation who is prepared to take the Government’s word on trust in relation to this matter. Given that we are where we are, and indeed that the Government are where they are, I think Members will understand that position.

If we are in a position to implement the clause earlier, it can be implemented earlier. The political declaration says that an early arrangement for fishing matters would be desirable, and I do not doubt that to be the case. However, like many in the industry, I do not see what could stop the four or five who were awkward, shall we say, over the creation of the transitional arrangements being awkward in relation to the final deal. The purpose of having 31 December 2020 as the implementation date is just one further encouragement to stiffen the resolve of Ministers.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Earlier in the Committee’s deliberations, we considered whether the Bill needed more flexibility when it came to the commencement debate. It is noticeable that with amendment 1, which accompanies the amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman, my neighbours from south-east and north Cornwall, whose constituencies are close to the Minister’s, have tabled a similar amendment about the commencement date.

I share fishers’ concern about the upcoming betrayal. It is no secret that I fear that people above the fisheries Minister’s pay grade—the Environment Secretary, the Prime Minister and others—will be looking to betray fishing in the future negotiations. The idea of having a solid date for leaving the EU common fisheries policy is appealing to fishing and to people who do not disbelieve Ministers’ words but have concerns about whether it can be delivered, given the strong and firm negotiating position of some of our EU friends in relation to this.

The key thing that the Opposition want to highlight is that the industry has every right to be concerned about our departure from the common fisheries policy. It was made promises about departing the CFP in relation to the transition, and they were repeated week in, week out up until a week before the Government’s U-turn on that position. It has every right to be cautious and sceptical about the Government’s promises. The Government have seen fit to amend the Bill to require an improvement to our position in relation to relative stability in any future negotiations. Surely the same principle should apply to this area, and the Minister should want to attach a date to our exit from the CFP.

I want to ask a similar question to the one I asked about the Minister’s earlier amendment. Will this be subject to primary legislation, or are there any Secret Squirrel or Henry VIII powers up the Minister’s sleeve that will enable this to be adjusted in the event—or the inevitability—that article 50 is extended and the future of fishing within the CFP is betrayed?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hanson. Amendment 1 is a probing amendment relating to a concern raised by several hon. Members—[Interruption.] Give me a second to finish my first paragraph, and then I will give way to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun.

The concern has been raised by hon. Members including those who tabled the amendment—my hon. Friends the Members for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray) and for North Cornwall (Scott Mann)—the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland and the shadow Minister. I do not know whether this will reassure Opposition Members. I am sure the Minister will forgive me for reiterating this concern, which I have raised relentlessly, not just with him but with Ministers and Cabinet members above his pay grade, and I will continue to do so.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I was just chuntering from the sidelines. The hon. Gentleman said that this is a probing amendment. Does that mean that he is not deadly serious about it and is not willing to press it to a vote?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have heard comments from the Minister that reassure me to some extent, but as the hon. Gentleman knows other things are afoot that make it very difficult to pass this amendment right now. I will comment further on Report.

This concern is shared not just by hon. Members but by the industry as a whole through representations from organisations including, but not limited to, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and the Scottish White Fish Producers Association. The amendment addresses the timing of when we extricate ourselves from the influence of the common fisheries policy. Of course, we actually leave the common fisheries policy when we leave the EU. That is always what was promised, but because of the implementation period we will find ourselves under the influence of the CFP.

The Minister will be aware that, along with hon. Members from other coastal constituencies, I made representations, initially proposed by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, at the start of the year that the impact of any transition period on fisheries should extend only nine months from Brexit date—to the end of 2019. In March this year, the intention to have a 21-month implementation period was announced. Given that this was an additional 12 months over what was proposed as a compromise, it was greeted with disappointment in fishing communities. However, it has been understood and broadly accepted on the basis that the final prize of being out of the CFP and being an independent coastal state was still very much in play, and that the EU itself would not accept fisheries being cherry-picked out of the implementation period. I leave aside for the purpose of this discussion the EU’s subsequent attempts to do that very thing—to cherry-pick fisheries and other aspects of the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration. That is for another discussion.

The industry was encouraged by and supportive of the White Paper, in no small part due to the repeated mentions of December 2020 as the moment we would take our place as an independent coastal state. However, that date is not reflected in the Bill. Amendment 1 seeks to put that date in the Bill, or at least to secure an assurance, which I invite the Minister to provide, that our exit from the influence of the CFP will be time-limited.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman said that amendment 1 was a probing amendment and that this was not quite the right time to put the date in statute. When will be the right time? What will have changed by the time we get to Report to make such an amendment the right one?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am looking forward to the Minister’s response to the amendment. As the hon. Gentleman and the rest of the Committee know, a lot is happening—or not happening—at the moment, so we need to see what comes out of the next few weeks. I would be grateful if the Minister provided whatever assurance he can at this stage about how the Government will ensure that the CFP no longer applies to our fishermen beyond December 2020.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Both amendments seek to achieve the same purpose, which is effectively to make it harder to extend the implementation period beyond December 2020, as currently provided for in the withdrawal agreement. Underlying the amendments is the clear sentiment in the fishing industry, on which I think there is almost cross-party consensus, that we cannot get out of the EU fast enough. The common fisheries policy has been a disaster—we do not get a fair share of stocks—so it is entirely understandable that the fishing industry and others would like us to become an independent coastal state with our own seat at the table, negotiating our own fisheries resources and getting a fairer share of the total allowable catch, as soon as possible.

We currently envisage the implementation period running until the end of 2020. As we discussed earlier, in the event that we are unable to conclude a future partnership with the EU during that implementation period, and that that is apparent by July 2020, the Government will have a choice of one of two options. If we have made good progress and are close to getting a new agreement in place, there will be an opportunity to extend the implementation period. That might be for just a few months to ensure that things can be put in place. If, however, the Government judged that the prospects of getting a future partnership were low—or the prospects of getting one in the foreseeable future were low—they could opt to embrace the so-called Northern Ireland protocol backstop.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Is what the Minister says not completely contrary to the answers he gave about new clause 22? He said the new clause would stop us being in a backstop position—it would override that—but now he says, “We can’t accept this date because there’s the potential of the backstop and extending the implementation period.”

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

New clause 22 applies explicitly in the case of our creating a new partnership—not extending the implementation period, not falling into the backstop, but actually having a new partnership. It prevents the Government from making concessions on fisheries for other advances elsewhere. That is the point. It is separate—it addresses the third option, where we get what we are aiming for, which is an agreement.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Equally, in his answers to questions about new clause 22, the Minister said it was all about being outside the common fisheries policy, so why not accept a date?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Amendments 1 and 35 are not about our future economic partnership, which is a separate concern that we have addressed elsewhere—obviously the withdrawal agreement has its complexities. If in July 2020 we face either a short extension of the implementation period or going into the backstop, the Government will have a choice.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I will give way in a moment, but I want to clarify a point that I made earlier about tariffs, because I know that it raised eyebrows. The position is that if there is not a fisheries agreement, and if the backstop applies, there will indeed be tariffs on fisheries and agriculture products. However, special arrangements would be made to ensure that Northern Ireland vessels that land in Northern Ireland—and only Northern Ireland vessels that land in Northern Ireland—would not have to pay tariffs, although tariffs would apply to fish moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. I thought I should take the opportunity to correct the record because my earlier description was less comprehensive than it should have been, although elements of it were correct.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

“Less comprehensive than it should have been” is a very nice way of describing it. Should I take it from what the Minister says that, of the two options he describes, the backstop rather than an extended transition period would be preferable for the fishing industry?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

From the very narrow perspective of the fishing industry, that is almost certainly the case. In the backstop, we would have complete control of our waters, whereas if the implementation period were extended, the current rules would continue to apply.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

How likely does the Minister think it that when the Cabinet comes to consider the position, as it will almost certainly have to at some point, the fishing industry will have its way against the other considerations under discussion?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Highly likely. One thing I can tell hon. Members is that the Prime Minister has absolutely championed fisheries throughout the negotiations. Indeed, that is the reason for the amendments that we have made and the reason why the withdrawal agreement made none of the concessions on fisheries that several people had anticipated. It was a clear red line that the Government held to.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In saying that the Prime Minister has championed the fishing industry throughout the negotiations, the Minister is being a little less comprehensive than he might be. May I remind him that it was the Prime Minister and the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) who agreed to the industry’s being put into the transitional arrangements? If she had been championing it at that point, that would never have happened.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I understand the right hon. Gentleman’s point, but I strongly disagree. I was involved in the final run-up to the withdrawal agreement. Of course there was pressure from the EU to give undertakings on access, but we refused to give any such undertakings. I believe that the agreement we have will be absolutely right for the fishing industry.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

If the Minister is right about that, why were Ministers, especially the Prime Minister, still making the promise until a couple of weeks before it was eventually sold out?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Both the Secretary of State and I argued clearly and strongly—and the Prime Minister shared our view—that it would have been preferable for fisheries not to be covered by the implementation period. We do not necessarily think that that was even necessary, but ultimately the transition period is a short one that lasts only until the end of December 2020. In the interests of an orderly Brexit, it was a concession that had to be made to get an implementation period for the short term. When it comes to our long-term partnership, we have been absolutely clear that we will make no such concessions.

Let me return to the amendments. Their impact would clearly be to make it rather more difficult for the Government to choose a course of action that extended the implementation period; indeed, that is probably the intention behind them. The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, asked how that could be undone. As with the previous amendment, it would require primary legislation. Things can always be undone, but that would need a Bill with parliamentary support, so it would not be easy to remove such a provision.

My hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan made a telling point: we are obviously in a rather fluid situation at the moment, with a withdrawal agreement that is still under discussion and that will be debated by Parliament shortly. I therefore ask both him and the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland to keep their powder dry on the particular issue of the date, because by the time this Bill appears on the Floor of the House for Report stage, I am sure we will have greater clarity about the nature of the terms on which we are leaving the European Union. If we were to leave the European Union without an agreement, amendments of this sort would no longer be necessary. The right time to consider amendments to the commencement date will be when the terms of the withdrawal agreement are clearer.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The fishing industry is known for its plain talking and I think that many people watching this sitting will be confused as to the Minister’s choice of words. May I invite him to express himself in plain English, so that the entire industry can see that he is basically hedging his bets? Is that his message—that the industry should not take solace in the idea that the provisions will be delivered on that date?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that the amendment is unnecessary because we are confident that we will get a withdrawal agreement with the European Union. I am confident that will take effect before the end of the implementation period, and therefore I am confident that we will be negotiating as an independent coastal state in December 2020.

In so far as some people may have some doubt about the nature of the withdrawal agreement and what type of arrangement we might finally get with the European Union, my message is this: let us see what happens in January. Those events will transpire before this Bill returns on Report, at which stage we will be in a more informed position to make a judgement on such amendments. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan and the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland will keep their powder dry and consider this matter at a future date.

I do not know how many people are watching this sitting, but if there are many of them, as the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport has said, I am delighted that there is such interest in this vital industry and in our taking back control of our own waters.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

If we ever make kicking the can down the road an Olympic sport, Ministers in this Government would win gold, silver and bronze virtually in perpetuity.

First, let me say that I do not doubt for a second the Minister’s commitment to our fishing industry. That is why I am keen that we get him out to Brussels tonight to do the year-end negotiation. However, whatever words were coming out of his mouth, his body language was slightly different, and I think that the confidence that he speaks of is not actually met, and is certainly not matched, in the industry.

I pushed the Minister with a number of interventions in the course of his speech, not just because it was entertaining sport, although it undoubtedly is and can be, but because I wanted members of the Committee to see the position that the Government are in—the whole series of contradictions and broken promises that have brought us to this stage.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan said that his is a probing amendment. That matters, because if he were to vote with us—presuming that every Opposition member of the Committee were to support my amendment—the proposed date would go in the Bill. On the question of jam tomorrow, if, as the Minister says, there is a different situation come January, it would be open to the Government to table amendments on Report and change the date back again, or they could propose a different date, whatever that would be.

The amendment would send a greatly reassuring signal to the industry that it was being listened to and that its concerns were being acted on, and that the Government were not going to simply take things on trust. The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan, who added his name to a virtually identical amendment, has the opportunity to deliver that and make the change. It is for him to decide. He is ultimately accountable to his constituents; we are all accountable to our constituents. It is for him to decide whether he takes the assurances from the Minister, given all their various inconsistencies and contradictions. For that reason, I will not withdraw my amendment but press it to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 14

17 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 8
Noes: 9

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Clauses 39 to 43 will come into force on the day on which the Act is passed. Those are the later parts of the Bill. As we have discussed today, most of the Bill’s provisions will come into force on such a day as the Secretary of State may make them by regulations. Different days may be appointed for different purposes. Hon. Members will understand that the Bill contains a broad range of purposes. That is why we believe it is important to have that flexibility to commence different parts of the Bill at different times.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Before the Minister finishes, I want to take the opportunity to thank the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland for tempting me with the opportunity to do what might have seemed a slick and easy solution to the issue that we discussed at some length. As the Minister has already said, there is a lot going on just now. I will not let this go—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. We cannot revisit amendments that we have completed and voted on.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan makes an important point. The provisions in clause 42 are set out as they for a good reason, which is that we need flexibility in subsection (3) to ensure we can commence different parts of the Bill at different times.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 42, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 43

Short title

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

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Minister could have called this the sustainable fisheries Bill. That missed opportunity could have been reflected in the short title. It would have sent a strong message to the industry and to all those people in fisheries that we will create a sustainable fishery after Brexit. That could have been put on the face of the Bill, but as the Opposition are not allowed to table amendments to a short title, we were unable to do that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Given the refusal to include commitments to the principle of maximum sustainable yield or the multiple amendments that Opposition Members have tabled—all of which have been rebuffed by the Minister and the Government—does the hon. Gentleman not think that the Government have got the title right?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The right hon. Gentleman steals my final line. We would have tabled an amendment, but we needed to make sure that the content was right. As such, we cannot do anything with it, so I will sit down.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We would all have done many things in different times, I am sure.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 43 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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

Adjourned till this day at Nine o’clock.

Fisheries Bill (Tenth_PART2 sitting)

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

Monday 17 December 2018

(Evening)

[Part II]

[James Gray in the Chair]

Fisheries Bill

New Clause 4

Amendments that could have been made under existing powers

“(1) Where—

(a) any provision of this Act amends or revokes subordinate legislation, and

(b) the amendment or revocation could have been made under a power conferred by an enactment,

the amendment or revocation is treated, for the purpose of making further provision under that enactment, as having been made under it.

(2) In this section—

‘enactment’ has the same meaning as in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018;

‘subordinate legislation’ has the same meaning as in the Interpretation Act 1978.”—(George Eustice.)

This new clause would ensure that the amendments of statutory instruments made by the Bill do not limit what can be done under the powers under which the instruments were made.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 5

Legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales

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

(2) In section 108A (legislative competence), after subsection (4) insert—

‘(4A) References in subsections (2)(b) and (3) to Wales include, in relation to a relevant provision of an Act of the Assembly, the area of the Welsh zone beyond the seaward limit of the territorial sea.

A provision of an Act of the Assembly is “relevant” if it relates to fishing, fisheries or fish health.’

(3) In section 157A (devolved Welsh authority), after subsection (8) insert—

‘(9) References in this section to Wales include, in relation to a relevant function of a public authority, the area of the Welsh zone beyond the seaward limit of the territorial sea.

A function of a public authority is “relevant” if it relates to fishing, fisheries or fish health.’

(4) In Schedule 3, in paragraph 9 (Parliamentary and Assembly procedure applying to exercise of legislative function transferred to Assembly under GOWA 2006), after sub-paragraph (6) insert—

‘(6A) References in sub-paragraph (6) to Wales include, in relation to a relevant function or activity of a cross-border body, the area of the Welsh zone beyond the seaward limit of the territorial sea.

A function or activity of a cross-border body is “relevant” if it relates to fishing, fisheries or fish health.’

(5) In Schedule 7A (reserved matters)—

(a) in paragraph 9, after sub-paragraph (4) insert—

‘(4A) References in this paragraph to Wales include, in relation to a relevant function of a tribunal, the area of the Welsh zone beyond the seaward limit of the territorial sea.

A function of a tribunal is “relevant” if it relates to fishing, fisheries or fish health.’

(b) in paragraph 195, after sub-paragraph (3) insert—

‘(3A) References in this paragraph to Wales include, in relation to a relevant function of an authority, the area of the Welsh zone beyond the seaward limit of the territorial sea.

A function of an authority is “relevant” if it relates to fishing, fisheries or fish health.’

(6) In Schedule 11, in paragraph 33 (Parliamentary and Assembly procedure applying to exercise of legislative function transferred to Assembly under GOWA 1998), after sub-paragraph (6) insert—

‘(6A) References in sub-paragraph (6) to Wales include, in relation to a relevant function or activity of a cross-border body, the area of the Welsh zone beyond the seaward limit of the territorial sea.

A function or activity of a cross-border body is “relevant” if it relates to fishing, fisheries or fish health.’”—(George Eustice.)

This new clause would extend the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales to include provision about fishing, fisheries or fish health in the offshore part of the Welsh Zone.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 5 essentially addresses an inconsistency between the devolution settlements for Wales and for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Unlike the devolution settlements for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the National Assembly for Wales does not currently have legislative competence in relation to fisheries in the offshore area, although it already has executive competence for those areas. The Bill, combined with our withdrawal from the European Union, will mean that the devolved Administrations will have more powers than ever before, and we believe it is right for this modification to be made so that the Welsh Government can exercise their legislative competence as set out in the Bill.

The new clause, therefore, will enable the Assembly to make primary legislation on fishing, fisheries and fish health for the whole Welsh zone. The Welsh offshore region is the area of sea outside the territorial sea—that is, beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast, but within the exclusive economic zone. It is a relatively small area, stretching at its greatest extent to 30 nautical miles from the coast of Wales. Without this new clause, the National Assembly for Wales could not make its own primary legislation relating to fisheries in the Welsh offshore region and the management of fisheries in Welsh waters would be more piecemeal and less effective.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

There are a couple of points I want to make on this new clause. I understand that the Welsh Labour Government have raised concerns with the Government regarding the National Assembly’s legislative competence for fisheries matters beyond Welsh inshore waters. The Welsh Government are seeking to bring the National Assembly’s competence in line with Welsh Ministers’ Executive competence, which would make the introduction of a pan-UK framework less complex. The Minister’s letter to the Committee about new clause 5 explained that this is designed to address the need for an extension to the Welsh Government’s legislative competence to bring Wales in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Can the Minister formally confirm for the record that new clause 5 adequately addresses the issues raised by the Welsh Government regarding the Bill, and that they have been consulted on and have agreed to the terms of new clause 5? Can he also explain why this issue was not addressed at an earlier stage, so that the Bill could be introduced in a more complete form? Furthermore, I understand that the Welsh Government have also raised concerns in relation to clause 18 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Can the Minister tell the Committee when discussions on those issues will be concluded, and whether he plans to table further amendments to deal with them during the Bill’s progress?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I can indeed confirm that we have developed the new clause in conversation with the Welsh Government. It was a specific request that they made after the Bill had been published and as it approached Second Reading, and we needed to go through the Government write-round process to get agreement to make the change. Obviously, there was earlier legislation as recently as two years ago in which Executive competence was given to the Welsh Government. At that point, they did not ask for legislative competence; I think everybody can agree that that was probably an oversight at the time and it is now important that they have that legislative competence. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that this amendment, as drafted, enables the Welsh Government to have the legislative competence that they seek, that it has been developed in discussion with them and that it therefore addresses their concerns in that regard.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 5 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 22

Fisheries agreement between the UK and the EU

“(1) This section applies if—

(a) the United Kingdom and the EU enter into a withdrawal agreement, and

(b) pursuant to that agreement, the Secretary of State enters into negotiations with the EU, on behalf of the United Kingdom, for an agreement about the management of shared stocks (a ‘fisheries agreement’).

(2) The Secretary of State must pursue the following two objectives when negotiating a fisheries agreement.

(3) The first objective is that the agreement should provide for annual negotiations to determine fishing opportunities.

(4) The second objective is that the agreement should have the effect that Union fishing boats are not granted access to UK waters in any year unless the fishing opportunities for that year that are available for distribution by the United Kingdom are (looked at in the round) greater than those that would have been so available under relative stability.

(5) The reference in subsection (4) to the fishing opportunities for any year that would have been available for distribution by the United Kingdom “under relative stability” is to the fishing opportunities that would, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, have been so available for that year under the common fisheries policy, were the United Kingdom still a member of the EU.

(6) In this section—

‘exclusive economic zone’ has the meaning given by Part 5 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (Cmnd 8941);

“fishing opportunities” means—

(a) the maximum quantities of shared stocks of particular descriptions that may be caught annually in particular areas within UK and Union waters, and

(b) the maximum number of days that fishing boats may spend at sea annually, in particular areas within UK and Union waters, fishing for particular descriptions of shared stocks;

‘shared stocks’ means stocks of sea fish which are found—

(a) in waters within the exclusive economic zone of the United Kingdom, and

(b) in waters within the exclusive economic zone of a member State;

‘UK waters’ means waters within British fishery limits;

‘Union fishing boat’ means a fishing vessel flying the flag of a member State and registered in the EU;

‘Union waters’ has the meaning given by Article 4 of the Common Fisheries Policy Regulation;

‘withdrawal agreement’ means an agreement setting out the arrangements for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU in the terms (or essentially in the terms) endorsed by the meeting of the European Council held on 25 November 2018.”—(George Eustice.)

This new clause would require the Government, when negotiating an agreement with the EU about fisheries, to pursue the objectives that fishing opportunities should be subject to annual negotiation, and that the UK should receive more fishing opportunities than it does under the common fisheries policy.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 1

Sea Fish Industry Authority: powers in relation to parts of UK etc.

“(1) The Fisheries Act 1981 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 2(1) (duties of the Authority)—

(a) after the third “of” insert, “(amongst other things)”,

(b) delete the words “as a whole”.

(3) After section 3 (powers of the Authority), insert—

“3A Exercise of functions in relation to different parts of the UK etc.

The Authority may exercise its functions separately and differently in relation to—

(a) the sea fish industry in different parts of the United Kingdom,

(b) sea fish and sea fish products landed in different parts of the United Kingdom,

(c) sea fish and sea fish products trans-shipped in different parts of the sea within British fishery limits adjacent to different parts of the United Kingdom.

3B Delegation of functions

(1) The Authority may authorise any other person to exercise on its behalf such of its functions and to such extent as it may determine.

(2) The Authority may give to any person authorised under this section to exercise any of its functions—

(a) financial assistance (by way of loan, grant or guarantee),

(b) other assistance including assistance by way of the provision of property, staff or services, for the purposes of those functions.

(3) The giving of authority under this section to exercise a function does not—

(a) affect the Authority’s responsibility for the exercise of the function, or

(b) prevent the Authority from exercising the function itself.”.

(4) In section 11 (accounts and reports), after subsection (7) insert—

“(7A) The report must include details of how income received from levies imposed under section 4 has been applied in the financial year in respect of each part of the United Kingdom by the Authority in exercising its functions including in particular details, in respect of each part of the United Kingdom, of how the income has been applied by the Authority in—

(a) promoting the efficiency of the sea fish industry in that part,

(b) promoting the marketing and consumption of, and the export of, sea fish and sea fish products relating to that part.”.

(5) In schedule 1 (the Sea Fish Industry Authority), in paragraph 16—

(a) before sub-paragraph (1) insert—

“(A1) The Authority must appoint a committee for the purpose of assisting the Authority in the exercise of its functions in relation to the sea fish industry in Scotland.

(A2) The committee is to consist of or include persons who are not members of the Authority.

(A3) The Authority must consult the committee on the exercise of its functions in relation to the sea fish industry in Scotland.”,

(b) in sub-paragraph (1), before “committees” insert “other”,

(c) in sub-paragraph (2), for “such committees” substitute “committees appointed under this paragraph”.”—(Brendan O'Hara.)

This new clause would give the Sea Fish Industry Authority greater flexibility to exercise its functions separately and differently in different parts of the UK. It would also require Seafish to report how income received from the levies it imposes has been applied in respect of each part of the United Kingdom.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I rise to speak to new clause 1, which has been tabled in my name and in those of my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock).

It has been a long-held view of the Scottish Government, and, indeed, of many in the sector, that Seafish, because of the way it is currently constituted, is not sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of the entire sector and requires radical reform. Many have made the case that there is an inherent flaw in Seafish attempting to represent all of the UK while operating in an area in which policy is devolved. In trying to represent the whole of the UK fishing industry, Seafish is viewed by many as providing insufficient support to the sector in Scotland, which all too often results in the poor or unsatisfactory marketing and promotion of Scottish seafood.

The main objective of the new clause is to devolve both the control over funding and the Executive powers of Seafish to Scottish Ministers. It would also devolve control of the Scottish aspects of the fishing levy, giving Scotland a key role in deciding how the Scottish share of the fishing levy should be spent. We believe that this new model will provide much greater flexibility for Seafish to exercise its functions separately and differently in the different parts of the UK. The new clause would also require Seafish to report the income it receives from the levies it imposes and how those are applied in each part of the United Kingdom.

As I have often said in Committee, not only is fishing devolved but there is absolutely no standardised version of the fishing industry across the UK. From Truro to Thurso and beyond, it is multi-layered, complex and nuanced, and is often very localised. Given that there is no one single fishing industry pursuing a common set of clear, shared objectives, it is surely ludicrous that we still have a one-size-fits-all fishing authority charged with securing a sustainable, profitable future for all parts of the seafood industry. How can Seafish practically offer regulatory guidance and service to the industry—including catching, aquaculture, processors, importers, exporters and distributors of seafood—as well as looking after restaurants and retailers in such a complicated and differentiated industry?

This is not an attack on Seafish or the people who work there. Rather, it is recognising that, with an aggregated coastline of almost 20,000 miles containing a host of different fishing practices and interests, it is in an almost impossible situation in trying to work in the best interests of everyone.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have made the same point as the hon. Gentleman often enough myself. However, the industry in Scotland surely encompasses the full range of practices that he identifies across the whole of the United Kingdom. How would devolution help to address that?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I represent a west coast constituency and he represents a northern isles constituency, which are vastly different from that represented by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan. It is about devolving power to as local a level as one possibly can. If Scottish Ministers are given the power to act on behalf of a much smaller area and a much smaller concentration of the industry, I think it will much better serve the industry as a whole across Scotland.

The Bill gives us the perfect opportunity to reform the current system to ensure that that levy can be better used to promote the range and quality of Scottish seafood, both at home and abroad. If Scotland were allowed to take these investment decisions, it would allow us to properly support the industry by promoting the quality and excellence of Scottish seafood products, both at home and across the world. It would also allow us to maximise the benefits of Scottish provenance, which is so important when marketing ourselves, particularly abroad, while supplying top-quality products to consumers.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Labour party fully supports the new clause, which seems like a sensible measure that would allow for a degree of variation in the way that the Sea Fish Industry Authority operates in different parts of the UK to reflect the fact that every part of the UK has a distinctive fishing industry that reflects its local circumstances, as the hon. Gentleman said. The new clause also requires Seafish to report on how the income received from the levies it imposes has been applied in each part of the United Kingdom. Again, that seems like a sensible suggestion to ensure that there is transparency in the way in which the levy is applied in each part of the UK. Therefore, we will support the new clause.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We disagree with the new clause and think that it is unnecessary. The issue of Seafish and the seafood levy was looked at in detail as part of the Smith Commission recommendations as recently as 2014. The new clause would go beyond what that commission recommended, which was that the power to impose levies should not be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

However, we have taken account of some of the issues raised by the Scottish Government and by Richard Lochhead, the Minister at the time. In response, as well as having permanent Scottish representatives on its main board, Seafish established a separate Seafish Scottish advisory committee early this year to advise the board on how the levy should be invested in Scotland. The Scottish industry is also well represented in the sector panels that advise on Seafish’s UK priorities, as I have said.

In 2011, a consultation on the Sea Fish Industry Authority’s regional structures showed little industry support for the kind of devolution of the levy that the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute outlines. Indeed, just 20% of stakeholders supported such a model. A Scotland-focused levy would reduce Seafish’s overall ability to carry out its UK-wide priorities. It would reduce economies of scale and potentially cut across some of our other approaches as a UK-wide entity.

The levy setting already requires the consent of all the devolved Administrations. Periodically, when we want to review the levies, we have a discussion with the Scottish Government about exactly what they should be. There are arguments about which should go up and which should go down, but we have achieved unanimous agreement that we should make the levy change only once, so I do not accept that Scotland does not have sufficient influence at the moment.

Seafish publishes an annual report that sets out in great detail all its activities and funding, how it operates and what its priorities are. I therefore do not believe that we need additional requirements in that regard, since it is already done.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute for tabling the new clause, because it is an important topic to discuss and there is no doubt that our current system is capable of improvement. I sound a couple of notes of caution, however, in relation to the proposal for devolution.

We risk breaking up the support that is available by geography rather than by sector. The inshore fishermen in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, who are catching nephrops, langoustines and others, probably have a fairly strong community of interests with those who are catching in the Irish sea and in the south-west.

Likewise there will be a community of interest in the other sectors, such as the pelagic sector at the other end of the country, the white fish sector and so on. Although I would never close the door on that sort of thing, from my experience, I would require a bit more persuasion that the industry wants or is asking for that kind of reform.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Minister said that this issue was talked about in 2014. I think he would agree—I suspect that no one would disagree—that in politics 2014 seems a long time ago and much has changed.

I appreciate the support from the hon. Member for Glasgow North East, who talked about transparency, and he is absolutely right. In response to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, it is really important that this new clause is seen as a genuine attempt to improve Seafish. We are not seeking to undermine Seafish; we are seeking to improve how it works and how it can work best for the multitude of Scottish fishing industries. I agree that there is a community of interest, particularly in Northern Ireland, but that community of interest will be severely undermined by the imposition of the backstop that we talked about earlier this evening.

This change would work because it would allow a Scottish Seafish to promote all Scottish seafish across both coasts and the northern isles, and it could work. At the moment, Seafish does not work well for Scotland.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I just want to tease out the issues here a little bit. I ask this question in a spirit of genuine inquiry, because I do not know the answer to it, but I would think that a lot of the inshore boats—the foreign boats in particular—around the hon. Gentleman’s constituency and certainly on the Clyde will fish as far down as the Isle of Man and around there, so what, in this context, actually constitutes “Scottish seafish”?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

One would presume that it is where the catch is landed, or where the boat is registered. So when a boat comes back to Tarbert, or Oban, or the right hon. Gentleman’s home island of Islay, that would constitute “Scottish seafood”. I do not need to tell him how important that Scottish provenance is and how important it is to get those langoustines to Madrid or Paris as quickly as we possibly can. If we have an organisation that is at front and centre about Scottish provenance, I think that would certainly be a step in the right direction.

As I say, I do not think that Seafish is working particularly well for Scotland at the moment and that is something we have to address. So, with your permission, Mr Gray, I will push this new clause to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division 15

17 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 7
Noes: 9

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

New Clause 2

Fisheries payments to the Scottish Ministers

‘After exit day, the Secretary of State must make available to the Scottish Ministers each year sums which are at least equivalent to the sums made available to the Scottish Ministers in the year prior to exit day for the purpose of expenditure under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (established under Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund).’—(Alan Brown.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I bet you are delighted to be here in the final sitting tonight; the rest of the House has probably adjourned.

The new clause would ensure that the vital contribution that is made by the current European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to support sustainable growth in Scottish fisheries and aquaculture, inland waters, the seafood supply chain, conservation of the marine environment, and growth in jobs in coastal communities will be maintained in the future.

However, I must also add that the UK Government should be doing more to assess future opportunities such as rejuvenating coastal communities, and identify where infrastructure and subsequent funding might be required to maximise those opportunities. That would result in a bottom-up and needs-based approach that would lead to the establishment of a proper fund and the associated long-term planning. If we are to achieve the nirvana of catching more fish, landing them in Scottish and UK ports and processing them, further investment will clearly be required. The replacement EMFF would be an ideal vehicle for investment leverage.

Devolution is key here. We cannot possibly allow a repeat of DEFRA stealing the £160 million convergence uplift that is due to Scottish farmers—a redistribution that could have significant effects on future funding to farmers once historical payments are taken into account under any new UK scheme. Scotland currently receives 44% of EMFF moneys; that is obviously way higher than the pro rata figure per head of population, but it makes sense given the demographics of the fishing industry. I must put it on the record that there is no way we would ever countenance any future funding being allocated on a Barnett basis.

The situation appears even more stark when we look at the 2017 industry figures: 55% of employment in the sector overall, 58% of fishing industry employment and 75% of aquaculture industry employment are in Scotland. Scotland also accounts for 50% of fish processing, 67% of landings in the over-10-metre sector and 32% of landings in the under-10-metre sector. In a devolved context, it therefore makes sense that post Brexit, as an absolute minimum, the same allocation be made to the Scottish Government in the interest of effective distribution. Indeed, from the statistics I have cited, there is a clear case that Scotland should have further funding. I certainly would not want to see that happen to the detriment of other communities in the UK, but at the very minimum we should receive the equivalent of what we get now.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I support new clause 2, which is a frankly common-sense measure. It is imperative that, as a result of the UK leaving the European Union, the industry must have both the certainty and the financial underpinning that it requires. The new clause would ensure that, so surely it must appeal to Government Members who want to provide such certainty. I appeal particularly to Scottish Conservatives present, who surely want to uphold the interests of Scottish fisheries. Here is a real test of whether they are part of Team Ruth or Team May: will they uphold the interests of the Scottish fisheries?

The removal of the EMFF presents a significant challenge across industry in Scotland. My own experience—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the announcement made recently—last weekend, I think—about funding in the implementation period. As the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun will probably also appreciate, it was not Barnettised; I think the overall figure was £32.7 million, with £16.4 million going to Scotland. Does the hon. Member for Glasgow North East welcome that?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

All I am looking for is a simple guarantee that there will be no financial detriment to Scottish fisheries. If you can encourage your colleague the Minister—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I cannot, but he might.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Sorry, Mr Gray. If the hon. Gentleman can encourage his colleague the Minister to stand up and give that assurance, we will all be very happy and so will Scottish fisheries. That is all we are looking for—not smoke and mirrors or absolute figures cited in isolation, but an absolute guarantee that there will be no financial detriment as a result of this change.

As I was saying, there is a challenge facing the whole of Scottish industry because we are not sure what the so-called shared prosperity fund will look like. It will replace several models of European funding—including regional selective assistance, which I know from my former role at Scottish Enterprise was a crucial tool for promoting industrial development in Scotland—so we have to be very certain that there will be no financial detriment to industry as a result. An assurance to that effect would be welcomed by Scottish industry, including the fishing industry.

It is incumbent on the Minister to support the new clause because it would provide that degree of certainty. I thought that that was what the Conservative party was all about: providing certainty to business and allowing enterprise to flourish. Is that not music to your ears? I think you ought to stand here—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.
The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Sorry, Mr Gray—it is rather late and I am forgetting my pronouns. I think they ought to stand here and support the new clause.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have essentially reached the same conclusion as the two previous speakers, for slightly different reasons. The EMFF money has been of massive significance to the industry and to communities around the UK coastline. I support some sort of guarantee that that money will continue to go to our fishing industries and communities. The amendment deals, of course, only with guaranteeing that the money will continue to go to Scotland, but it would be unthinkable that the same would not then apply to fishing communities in Wales, Northern Ireland and, indeed, England. I would not start from this position; but ultimately, from the point of view of the industry in the communities, I think the amendment would get us to where we need to be. For that reason I support it.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I disagree with putting a provision of this nature in the Bill, for reasons I shall explain. It is very important with legislation to separate the legal powers that we seek, to engage in such activities as giving financial assistance to the fishing industry, from the way those obligations are funded. That is, and always has been, predominantly a matter for the spending review. Such a provision would be unhelpful.

As to the legal powers, we have set out in clause 28, for England, the legal powers we need to make grant payments; so we are not, as was suggested, relying on some shared prosperity fund. There will be bespoke grants for the fishing industry, and we set out the powers to do that for England in clause 28. Clause 28(8) sets out the fact that there will under schedule 4 be similar powers for the Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments.

Ironically, at the time the Bill was drafted and on Second Reading, the Scottish Government told us they did not want the powers; so I put it to the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute that before the Scottish Government start to say that we must guarantee the money, they should work out how they will guarantee how they will get the legal powers to pay any money out in the first place. They are now asking us whether we may be able to make amendments later, to include those powers.

At the moment there is clearly a gap in the Bill, but that is a consequence of the position that the Scottish Government have adopted, so that they do not have the legal powers to make any grant payments.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Minister said earlier that the money should come through the spending review, as has long been the case. The EMFF funds have never been part of the spending review; he should know that. The amendment would guarantee the money as a funding stream for the future. What guarantees are there for that funding stream in clause 28?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

EMFF comes from the EU budget and is part of the EU’s budget when it is set. It is typically set for a period of five years and is reviewed periodically. As recently as 10 December, the Secretary of State announced that the Government will put in place new domestic long-term arrangements for post-2021, which will enable us to create schemes similar to the EMFF in each of the four Administrations. In addition, he announced an extra £37.2 million of funding to boost the existing EMFF programme, to help the fishing industry prepare for the opportunities coming its way, as my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan pointed out.

I do not, therefore, believe that the new clause is necessary or appropriate. We have demonstrated, as recently as last week, our commitment to funding fisheries in the future. The Bill makes explicit provision for grants to be made in three of the four Administrations and I would simply say that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun should first consider obtaining the legal powers.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In response to an earlier intervention from the hon. Member for Stafford the Minister set a baseline, effectively, on relative stability—about what that meant. Is not it appropriate that there is also a baseline set on funding shares, which is effectively what the amendment says—so that no pennies are lost for Scotland or, indeed, any other part of the UK? Is not that a key attribute, which should be embedded, to follow the logic of what the Minister said to one of his hon. Friends?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I do not think it is the same logic at all. That was a different clause, addressing a different issue—a negotiation with the European Union or a bilateral negotiation with a different country. It was not at all about a collective position that a Government might take with the Treasury. That is different. The Treasury might sometimes adopt positions that not everyone would agree with, but it is certainly not a foreign country; it is part of the Government. For all those reasons I oppose new clause 2 and I hope the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun will withdraw it and perhaps consider what might be done on Report to ensure that Scotland has the legal powers it needs to do this.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Even though the new clause may not succeed, it would be worthwhile as a matter of record if the Minister could provide assurances to the industry that it is the Government’s intent that there should be no financial detriment as a result of the changes to the EMFF and the transition to the new financial frameworks that may supersede it.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I think we have demonstrated our intent in the announcements we have made just in the last week that there will be new schemes to replace the EMFF, and the fact that the current scheme will be boosted by £37 million. I oppose new clause 2.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Mr Lefroy, you look as though you are trying to get my attention, or the Minister’s attention. If you wish to speak, you can just stand up.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Thank you, Mr Gray; I was not sure whether I could come in once the Minister had finished. The new clause comes to an important point regarding both fisheries and agriculture. Until now we have had one line on the budget, something like £8 billion to £10 billion a year net, that we have been paying to the European Union. That includes subsidies in fisheries, agriculture and many other areas, such as regional funds. All those budget lines will now be on the national budget, and they will not be guaranteed in the same way that they were before, through the mechanisms of the common agricultural policy or the common fisheries policy.

I think there is a justifiable concern across the fisheries sector and across the agricultural sector that, because these budget lines will now be subject to Treasury action—hopefully positive Treasury action, but not necessarily—there will therefore potentially not be the same kind of long-term commitment to fisheries and agricultural funding that we see under the CFP and CAP. Would the Minister very kindly give us some fairly strong reassurances on the record about the Government’s intentions on fisheries funding for the medium to long term, and not just in the short term? Obviously the CAP is ultra vires here.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. I understand his anxiety; this is the first time in half a century that we are taking control of these policies. I will simply say that the point he raises could be applied to any other area of Government spending. We could argue that there is no guarantee that we will increase spending on the national health service or on schools, and yet we do, because of political pressure brought to bear by hon. Members on both sides of the House, not least on this side. Of course, it is always open to hon. Members, if there is a Budget put forward on the Floor of the House with which they disagree and which does not contain the elements they seek, to vote it down. When we leave the European Union, new checks and balances will come in, and those checks and balances will be the opinion of hon. Members such as him, not the European Union.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is right, but he knows perfectly well that we are not the Bundestag, where they go through budgets line by line; in this House it is in effect an all or nothing thing. Nobody is going to put a Budget in jeopardy over an area such as fisheries, which—absolutely vital though it is—is a relatively small part of the Budget. That points to a real problem that relatively small areas of public expenditure, which are nevertheless extremely important, have in the way we deal with budgets.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I understand that point, but conversely, one could say that the DEFRA budget is small compared with other Departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions or the Department of Health and Social Care. Big changes to our budget actually make a small difference to the overall maths, so far as the Treasury is concerned, so that argument can be made either way.

As I said earlier, we also have the levies, charges and tender incomes referred to in earlier clauses. I gave an undertaking that, on Report, we will seek to give more clarity to hon. Members about how those funds might be deployed to support our fishing objectives.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Minister is optimistic about the future prospects and in thinking that I will withdraw the new clause. I thank the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland and the hon. Member for Glasgow North East for their contributions.

I think the hon. Member for Stafford actually made the point for me when he expressed his concerns, and looked for reassurances from the Minister, that the money will go to the Treasury. Frankly, I do not trust the Treasury. I say to the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan that at one point there was a £1 billion fund for carbon capture and storage that looked like it was going to go to Peterhead, but the Treasury overrode the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and withdrew the funding. That is the problem with funding reviews by the Treasury: it can put a red pen through the funding at any time it likes. The Treasury holds the purse strings.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The general point that I think the hon. Gentleman is trying to make is that, while we are in the EU, we get the EMFF. However, does he accept that there is no guarantee of that same level of EMFF funding for member states in the future?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

No, there is not. That will be part of the settlement with the EU. However, the point is that the Treasury will control the funding. It will come back to the UK Government, and we are asking for a guarantee of funding at least equivalent to EMFF. It will be in the gift of the UK Government to do that. That is the whole point of the new clause, and that is why I was drawing attention to the fact that no guarantees are given in the Bill; it is left to the Treasury and is therefore a risk.

The Minister made an argument about the legal powers. The Scottish Government obviously believe they have the legal powers to give the grants, but that is an argument for another day. That would not stop that money being guaranteed for Scotland. I take the point of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that other areas will want the same guarantees. That is fine. I touched on how, going forward, I would like to see Scotland get more funding, but not to the detriment of other fishing communities around the UK. With that, I will press the new clause to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division 16

17 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 8
Noes: 9

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

New Clause 3

Sea Fish Industry Levies

“(1) The Fisheries Act 1981 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 4 (levies)—

(a) in subsection (2), for “Ministers” substitute “appropriate Ministerial authority”,

(b) in subsection (7), for “Ministers” substitute “appropriate Ministerial authority”,

(c) after subsection (8) insert—

“(8A) In this section, “appropriate Ministerial authority” means—

(a) in relation to sea fish or sea fish products landed in Scotland or trans-shipped within the Scottish zone, the Scottish Ministers,

(b) in any other case, the Ministers.”,

(d) in subsection (9), after “order” in both places where it occurs insert “of the Ministers”,

(e) after subsection (9) insert—

“(9A) Any order of the Scottish Ministers—

(a) under subsection (2) is subject to the negative procedure,

(b) under subsection (7) is subject to the affirmative procedure.”.

(3) In section 11 (accounts and reports), after subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) The statement of accounts must specify the total amount of income received in the financial year from levies imposed under section 4 in relation to sea fish or sea fish products landed in Scotland or trans-shipped within the Scottish zone.”.

(4) In section 14 (interpretation of Part 1)—

(a) in the definition of “the Ministers”, in paragraph (c), after “with” insert “(except in the case of an order under section 4(2) or (7))”,

(b) after that definition insert—

““Scotland” and “the Scottish zone” have the same meanings as in the Scotland Act 1998 (see section 126(1) and (2) of that Act);”.

(5) In schedule 2 (Sea Fish Industry Levies)—

(a) for “Ministers” in each place where it occurs substitute “appropriate Ministerial authority”,

(b) after paragraph 3 insert—

“4 In this schedule, “appropriate Ministerial authority” has the same meaning as in section 4 of this Act”.”.—(Alan Brown.)

This new clause seeks to devolve control of the Scottish aspects of levies imposed by Seafish to the Scottish Ministers to ensure inter alia that levies imposed in relation to fish or fish products landed in Scotland, or trans-shipped in Scottish waters, require confirmation by Scottish Ministers, and that Scottish Ministers may by order increase the rate of such levies.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I will try to brief. The new clause would effectively devolve control of the Scottish aspect of levies imposed by Seafish to Scottish Ministers, ensuring that levies imposed on fish or fish products landed in Scotland, or trans-shipped in Scottish waters, require confirmation by Scottish Ministers. It would also mean that Scottish Ministers may, by order, increase the rate of such levies.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll and Bute touched on, it is a long-held view of the Scottish Government that the existing Seafish levy is not fit for purpose, providing inadequate support to the sector in Scotland, resulting in insufficient marketing and promotion of Scottish seafood. Levies should not be uniform across the UK and should be placed in the hands of devolved Ministers to determine best procedure and practice in their own nations and regions. This issue is similar to the red meat levy, which was also a long-running sore. The UK Government accepted changes to the Agriculture Bill to resolve that to the satisfaction of the Scottish Government. I hope the Minister will see fit to do likewise with these proposals.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I support new clause 3, which seeks to devolve control of the Scottish aspects of levies imposed by Seafish to Scottish Ministers. Inter alia, it would require confirmation from Scottish Ministers for levies imposed in relation to fish or fish products landed in Scotland, or transhipped in Scottish waters, and allow Scottish Ministers to increase the rate of such levies by order.

It seems that the new clause makes sense and would allow Scottish Ministers to determine the rate of levy that best suits the industry in Scotland. The purpose of devolution is to allow for degrees of variance to best suit that country’s interests, and the new clause achieves that. We will support it.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As with the earlier amendments, I disagree with new clause 3. It goes beyond what was recommended by the Smith Commission, which looked at this issue as recently as 2014. There is no industry support for devolving the Seafish levies. Scottish Ministers already have responsibilities towards Seafish, including with regard to appointments to the board, which are agreed across all four Administrations of the UK. As I said earlier, there is already a Scottish advisory committee to Seafish. It is not appropriate to start to have different levies when parts of the fleet will land fish in different ports around the UK. That would create an unacceptable level of bureaucracy for a relatively small organisation such as Seafish.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Did the Smith Commission really look at this and the likes of the red meat levy in detail? What recommendations did it make about the red meat levy?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It did look at the issue in detail. The then Scottish Minister, Richard Lochhead, made strong representations about it. In particular, I remember that he wanted to introduce a levy on salmon producers in Scotland. That was one of the thoughts behind the change that he advocated. Those suggestions were considered by the Smith Commission, but rejected. I believe that we should accept that decision, as it looked at the suggestions in detail, and I oppose new clause 3 for that reason.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I was hoping for a more conciliatory tone from the Minister when I raised the example of the red meat levy, where the UK Government changes were very welcome.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The position with the red meat levy is different. Scotland and Wales feel that they do not get a fair share of the levy because the animals come from there and travel across the border to be slaughtered, and the levy is collected at the point of slaughter. That is not the case with the way that the seafood levy is collected. This is a different issue, about whether it is appropriate to devolve those particular levy charging functions. We do not believe it is.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I take the Minister’s point about the geographical nature of the red meat levy, and there were concerns that my new clause was about only Scotland, so I accept that. Nevertheless, I will press the new clause to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division 17

17 December 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 7
Noes: 9

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We now come to new clause 8.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

New clause 8 relates to the West Lothian question set to fish, which we debated in some detail last Tuesday on amendments 15 to 19. I tabled the new clause as a probing amendment at that stage, and at this stage I do not wish to move it.

New Clause 11

Managing shared stocks

“(1) Where shared stocks of common interest are also exploited by other coastal states, the Secretary of State must engage with those states with a view to ensuring that—

(a) shared stocks are managed in accordance with the UK’s international law obligations and in accordance with the objectives of this Act;

(b) fishing mortality is below levels which will restore or maintain those shared stocks above levels capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield; and

(c) the impacts of fishing on the marine environment are avoided or, where avoidance is not possible, demonstrably minimised.

(2) The Secretary of State must endeavour to establish bilateral or multilateral agreements with other coastal states for the joint management of shared stocks of common interest.

(3) Where no formal agreement is reached, the Secretary of State must make every effort to reach common arrangements with other coastal states for fishing of shared stocks of common interest.

(4) Where neither a formal agreement nor a common arrangement is reached, the Secretary of State must—

(a) take all necessary steps to ensure that fishing of shared stocks of common interest is carried out such that the relevant stocks are maintained above levels capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield; and

(b) provide and make publicly available an annual report to the appropriate legislature outlining the steps taken pursuant to subsection (a) above.

(5) In setting total allowable catches in the UK exclusive economic zone for shared stocks of common interest, the Secretary of State may not increase the total allowable catch for any particular shared stock for UK fishing vessels apart from in the circumstances provided for in subsections (6) and (7).

(6) Where a coastal state with which a shared stock is jointly managed has reduced the total allowable catch available within its territory and—

(a) the Secretary of State is confident that this new total allowable catch will be complied with and enforced; and

(b) the coastal state consents to the UK increasing its total allowable catch,

then the Secretary of State may increase the UK total allowable catch by an amount not exceeding the amount by which the other coastal state has decreased its total allowable catch.

(7) Where the best available scientific advice on a shared stock confirms that fishing mortality of that stock can be increased without reducing the stock below a level capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield, then the Secretary of State may increase the UK total allowable catch in proportion to the change in recommend fishing mortality and the UK’s agreed share of total allowable catch for that stock.”.—(Mr Carmichael.)

The purpose of this amendment is to set clear sustainability criteria in relation to negotiations with other countries to ensure that a clear and robust process can be developed to prevent overfishing.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

We come back almost full circle to how we deal with what are known as shared stocks. It is pretty clear that that is going to be a subject of some political and commercial significance when we move to the next stage of negotiations on the future relationship with our current EU neighbours.

We have observed a number of times that the principle of sustainability was front and centre in the White Paper when it was published, but somehow does not seem to have made the transition into the Bill. New clause 11 would put sustainability back into the Bill as it relates to our management of shared stocks. It seeks to give a framework under which we would seek to reach agreement with neighbouring countries, third countries and the EU. I would suggest that the principles are fairly straightforward and sound and that this is exactly the sort of thing that the Government should have in the Bill if it were to be, as the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport suggested earlier, a sustainable Fisheries Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Bill makes no firm commitment on how a shared stock should be sustainably managed, which was one reason why we spoke about shared stocks in the objectives right at the start of our consideration of the Bill. That is extremely concerning, as setting clear sustainability criteria in relation to negotiations with other countries would help to avoid, for example, another mackerel wars scenario.

However, I have some questions about subsection 6 of the new clause, in particular about its unintended consequences for the total allowable catch. It suggests that if, for any reason, a country reduced its allowable catch on sustainability grounds, the other countries in that shared stock would ramp up to get to the total allowable catch, which could have implications for sustainability. It would be interesting to know from the right hon. Gentleman how that might work and how he might allay any concerns on that point.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I do not agree with the new clause. It is unnecessary and could have unintended consequences.

As a country, we already have clear obligations under international law—under both the UN convention on the law of the sea and the UN fish stocks agreement—to co-operate on the management of shared stocks. That is an international obligation that we have as a signatory to both UNCLOS and the UNFSA. Notably, article 63 of UNCLOS requires the UK and all other signatories to

“seek, either directly or through appropriate subregional or regional organizations, to agree upon the measures necessary to coordinate and ensure the conservation and development of such stocks”.

Both UNCLOS and the UNFSA also contain obligations to achieve maximum sustainable yield.

I do not accept the analysis that there is nothing on sustainability in the Bill. Clause 1, right at the start of the Bill, contains a list of sustainability objectives, including a commitment to MSY and all the objectives that are currently written in the basic EU regulation on the common fisheries policy.

A more likely scenario is that other countries, whether that be Norway or the European Union, would choose to fish unsustainably. In the event that we could not get an agreement, the suggestion here is that we would still set our own catch well below that of other member states. Subsection (6) seems to suggest that other states might set their quota well below maximum sustainable yield, meaning that we could set it higher, provided we had the permission of other member states.

I am not sure what scenario the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland envisages. A more likely scenario is that the UK will insist on sustainable fishing, as we always have, since ours is the country that champions sustainable fishing more than any other, but another country might not agree to do so. If we could not get an agreement, that other country might fish unsustainably outside of an agreement.

Our remedy for that, as things stand, is to be very clear, as we were in our White Paper, that access to UK waters is conditional on other foreign countries fishing sustainably. We will have strong leverage to be able to say to our neighbours: “Unless you fish within an agreement and within levels that are sustainable, we will not grant you the access to our waters on which you depend.” That puts us in a strong position. The new clause seems to suggest that the UK is the country that will want to fish unsustainably while everybody else—our neighbours—are the good guys. I suspect the opposite will be the case, but we have other remedies to ensure that we can deliver sustainable fishing by our neighbouring countries.

For all those reasons, and because we already have legal commitments, including in clause 1, and to a joint fisheries statement, I oppose the new clause.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pity that the Minister’s appetite for declaratory clauses appears to have been sated by the introduction of new clause 22. I confess that I struggled to follow some of his reasoning. It comes to the point about subsection (6). Essentially, the Minister seems to be saying that we will behave in such a way that it is unnecessary for us to include the provision in the Bill, because those are our international obligations, although we are not expecting anybody else to follow their international obligations in the same way. I confess that I do not understand the logic of that.

However, having said that, the sustainability point remains. We know from experience of the common fisheries policy that, unless there are principles such as sustainability everywhere, Governments and fisheries managers are always very ingenious at finding ways not to follow them.

Given the lateness of the hour and the fact that we will probably want to return to this issue on Report with a broader audience, I am not minded to press for a Division at this stage, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the new clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 12

Duty to ensure adequate monitoring and enforcement

“(1) The fisheries policy authorities must ensure that all fishing vessels fishing within British fishery limits and all UK vessels fishing both within and outside of British fishery limits must have installed on board a fully functioning device which allows that vessel to be automatically located and identified through the vessel monitoring system by transmitting position data at least every 20 minutes and sharing such position data with the relevant fisheries policy authorities.

(2) The fisheries policy authorities must ensure that all fishing vessels over ten metres length overall fishing within British fishery limits and all UK fishing vessels over ten metres length overall fishing within and outside of British fishery limits must have electronic monitoring equipment in order to—

(a) provide detailed and accurate documentation of all fishing activities, monitoring of compliance with fisheries and marine management measures and the ability to record levels of discarding, as well as details of catch of species, whether subject to catch quota or otherwise, and

(b) enable the estimation of the size and quantity of the marine biological resources taken or transported and to enable the identification, to the extent possible, of—

(i) the species of marine biological resources taken or transported;

(ii) the types and features of fishing gear used, and

(iii) any technical bycatch mitigation measures used.

(3) The fishery policy authorities must ensure that a comprehensive enforcement framework is developed in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008, as amended from time to time.

(4) The fisheries policy authorities must by regulations make provision for any technical requirements necessary to implement this section.”—(Mr Carmichael.)

The purpose of this amendment is to strengthen the existing mechanisms for monitoring and control to help prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This includes requiring transmission of position data at least every 20 minutes and requiring electronic monitoring equipment on the majority of vessels capable of carrying such technology.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

This is a very much a probing new clause. There is little in the Bill—arguably nothing—that deals with monitoring and enforcement. This proposal, authored by Greener UK, is to have real-time reporting with technological devices and CCTV cameras. Those are live issues within the industry, and between industry scientists and conservationists. It is unfortunate that there is nothing at all in the Bill on the matter, so I have tabled the new clause to give the Minister an opportunity to explain what the Government will do about monitoring and enforcement, close to the implementation of the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We heard evidence on this subject from the director of the Marine Management Organisation, Phil Haslam, who said in relation to enforcement activities around fishing:

“The budget reduction since inception has been in the order of 60%”.––[Official Report, Fisheries Public Bill Committee, ; c. 50, Q101.]

That is simply unsustainable if we are to have properly enforced, well-protected and well-managed fisheries after Brexit. A number of concerns were voiced in the evidence sessions and since. We know that the number of hours of surveillance has dropped significantly since 2010, from 16,000 to just 2,000 now.

If we are to avoid a repetition of the scallop wars, but in UK rather than French waters, we need to ensure that we have sufficient levels of enforcement. It is good news that the Government have decided not necessarily to scrap all the Batch 1 River class offshore patrol vessels. That is a positive step forward, but there has still been no commitment on the number of hours those OPVs may be deployed for enforcement activity; there has just been a headline about their continued service, but with no certainty as to what that will mean.

We need to get much better on enforcement. There are serious concerns in the fishing industry about the focus on enforcement activities by UK ships enforcing in UK waters, which are targeting UK boats rather than foreign boats, which seem to have a lower standard when it comes to a number of different areas. The Government need to get better at enforcement, because the Opposition do not currently have confidence in their ability to enforce in our waters properly, especially when quota will be drawn down against our EU friends after Brexit, as we move from relative stability to zonal attachment. There are serious concerns about whether there is sufficient capacity within the enforcement branches of the Royal Navy’s fisheries squadron.

I will also press the Minister on what that means for inshore vessel monitoring systems. Earlier we asked whether EU boats should have the same requirements to obey the high safety standards and marine environmental protections. Can he confirm that all foreign boats will be required to have IVMS if they are in UK waters after Brexit, as that will help us in our enforcement activities?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I shall try to strike a more conciliatory tone in my response to this new clause, following the comments from the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. I believe that the new clause is unnecessary, although it does highlight an important issue: enforcement. The new clause duplicates existing legislation, including the so-called control regulation—Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009—which will be rolled forward into retained EU law. Therefore, the requirements for vessel monitoring systems and data transmission and the provision of information such as logbooks will continue to apply to any vessel fishing in our waters.

In addition, as I made clear earlier, DEFRA has recently consulted on extending VMS requirements to UK vessels under 12 metres in length. Work on this is at an advanced stage and we anticipate bringing forward the regulations next year. The UK also has obligations under the United Nations convention on the law of the sea and the regulations on illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries, and that requires effective monitoring and enforcement in any event. Also, clause 31 enables the Secretary the State to make regulations to introduce further provisions pertaining to enforcement and control.

The shadow Minister questioned the capacity for enforcement. As we discussed earlier, the three existing fisheries patrol vessels will remain in service—the decision to decommission them has been delayed. In addition, four new offshore patrol vessels will come into service next year. Finally, we have been doing some work with the Border Force cutters, and four vessels operated by the Border Force are capable of doing fisheries work. We have been training Border Force personnel to do fisheries protection work. Finally, on top of all of that, we are in discussions with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on aerial surveillance, so there will be a substantial uplift in enforcement capacity.

The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport mentioned funding. That will depend on how much of that capacity we need according to the type of scenario. At this stage, the important thing is to ensure that all of the capacity is there. If we need to access it, we can do so very quickly.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Briefly, EU boats are currently required to have IVMS, but there is a data-sharing agreement between all EU member states. Will the Minister confirm that data sharing agreements are in place for IVMS on EU boats and the UK authorities after we leave the EU?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

There will need to be an agreement on that, but obviously we have those data-sharing agreements with other neighbours, such as Norway, Iceland and the Faroes. In the absence of such an agreement, there will be no access whatsoever to European vessels. They will not be able to come into our waters unless they comply with our data requirements.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Earlier this evening, when Mr Hanson was in the Chair—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Happy times.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The joy is matched by your own presence in the Chair, Mr Gray, I assure you.

The challenge was put down that we should have Home Office Ministers on our fishing boats. It seems that the best we are going to get is some Border Force officers on a fishing boat, and not necessarily in the circumstances that we might have voted on for the purpose that we were discussing.

I said at the start that the new clause was intended to be probing. I think that the Bill would benefit from the inclusion of provisions on enforcement and monitoring. I hope that the Minister will reflect on that. Otherwise, we might wish to return to the matter on Report. I am pretty certain that my noble friends will have an approach to this. In the meantime, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

To keep the Committee up to date, there is some confusion about new clause 25, which appears on the selection list in error. There will be no further debate on new clause 25, which has already been voted on in a group earlier today.

New Clause 14

Duty to co-operate

“(1) A fisheries policy authority must co-operate with other fisheries policy authorities in the preparation and application of the JFS and any SSFS, the licensing of fishing boats, enforcement against illegal fishing activity, the determination and distribution of fishing opportunities and the prevention of discards.

(2) A fisheries policy authority may share information with another fisheries policy authority for the purpose of discharging its duty under subsection (1).”—(Luke Pollard.)

This new clause would place a duty to co-operate on all fisheries policy authorities in carrying out their functions under this Bill; and would provide for the sharing of information between fisheries policy authorities.

Brought up, and read the First time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The debate on new clause 25 was a good one, and we can always revisit it. This new clause is about the duty to co-operate. The Minister has already decided that there is no need for a dispute resolution mechanism in relation to the different national fishing authorities in preparing the joint fisheries statement, or the Secretary of State’s fisheries statement—a position that the Opposition disagreed with. In the event of not having a system for resolving disputes, it would be important to have a duty to co-operate in the Bill.

The amendment has been drafted with the support of the Blue Marine Foundation. The CFP provides the glue that currently holds UK fisheries governance together. Without it there is a danger that the various devolved Administrations, the MMO and the IFCAs will draft different regulations, since they will essentially have control over their own areas with no statutory obligation to speak to anyone else or have due regard to what happens in neighbouring waters. The effect of this fracturing of regulation was highlighted by the Pitt review after the catastrophic 2007 floods, where administrators had differing operational practices and poor communication within them. The new clause seeks to resolve that in relation to fisheries.

The fracturing of regulation was deemed to exacerbate the harm caused by flooding. Marine regulation faces the same problem. Two different landing sizes for the same species in different adjacent areas, for instance, would have the effect of making some regulations inoperable and confusing. Without a duty to co-operate, fisheries administrations would be acting together in an ad hoc manner and co-operation would be seen as an add-on to their core purpose. This duty would put co-operation at the centre of the administrations, where it needs to be.

The new clause is similar to section 13 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which followed the recommendations of the Pitt review. It does not replace the arrangements of the CFP but would go part of the way towards putting EU law into workable UK law.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Given that we already have co-operation on the joint fisheries statement, can the hon. Gentleman explain how his new clause would create an additional level of co-operation?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Effectively, because the Government have decided to vote down the very sensible proposal of having a dispute mechanism to resolve any disputes in preparation of the joint fisheries statement and the Secretary of State’s fisheries statement, the new clause seeks to ensure that all national fisheries bodies have a duty to co-operate and that there is no dispute in the preparation of the joint fisheries statement policies. That is why it is so important that an obligation to co-operate is placed on all authorities, to avoid some of the disputes that we otherwise anticipate, especially in the complex waters between England and Scotland, and ensure that the Scottish and English fisheries authorities can set appropriate levels.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

How would we define and assess that co-operation, and who would make the call on how effective it is? I might argue, for example, that the UK Government are not co-operating on a certain aspect, whereas the UK Government might say, “Well, we are co-operating.” Different people would have different perceptions. How would this function in reality?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The duty to co-operate is a well-established legal text within primary legislation, so there is already an established understanding of what that means. On that basis, I will sit down and let the Minister respond.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I know that we have discussed this issue earlier, but it is already provided for elsewhere in the Bill. I invite the hon. Gentleman to look at clause 5(1), in particular, which states:

“The fisheries policy authorities must prepare and publish a JFS before 1 January 2021.”

There is therefore already a legal obligation on all the fisheries policy authorities. Also, clause 3(1) states:

“A JFS may only be prepared by the fisheries policy authorities acting jointly”.

The fact that every fisheries policy authority is under a legal obligation to agree a JFS, and the fact that statement can be established only by those authorities acting jointly, already gives effect to a legal requirement to act jointly and in good faith to agree such a statement.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The title of clause 5 refers to “the first fisheries statements”. Can the Minister suggest what will happen in the event of a dispute on the second or third statements?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In the event that the statement is amended, the same rules apply. It can only be applied by the authorities acting jointly and we will have to agree these things. The first statement must be done by 2021, but any statements after that will obviously also be required, because there is a requirement to have a JFS. There will be more than one and the Bill also sets out that the statement must be reviewed at least every six years.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the Minister for those remarks. They do not go much of the way towards reassuring us that the second or third fisheries statements will have any element of co-operation. Therefore, in the absence of a dispute resolution mechanism, which would address disputes in preparation for fisheries statements, and in the absence of him taking on board the duty to co-operate, I think we are storing up trouble that we can quite clearly anticipate in future. I suspect that, as I mentioned previously, some industrious journalist will dig out this Hansard report when there is a dispute between the different national fisheries authorities, and it will then be flagged to the wider public that this was anticipated and not resolved.