Debates between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson during the 2019 Parliament

Thu 12th Nov 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords & Ping Pong (Minutes of Proceedings): House of Lords
Tue 21st Jul 2020
Agriculture Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 7th Jul 2020
Agriculture Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansarad) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansarad): House of Lords
Wed 1st Jul 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading
Wed 24th Jun 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 22nd Jun 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords & Report stage
Wed 11th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 9th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard)
Mon 9th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued)
Wed 4th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard)
Wed 4th Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued)
Mon 2nd Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard)
Mon 2nd Mar 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard - continued)

EU: Fishing Industry Negotiations

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Thursday 4th March 2021

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I would like the noble Baroness to let me have further details on this issue, which I will speak to the Fisheries Minister about, because we are having daily conversations with, for instance, the French embassy. I would like to hear more about the situation in North Shields; our task is to resolve these matters.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD) [V]
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My Lords, many parts of the industry are heading for bankruptcy, yet within the agreement we have the mechanism of a Specialised Committee on Fisheries, which has not yet met. The Minister, Victoria Prentis, recently said:

“Details on how the committee will function will be communicated once they are finalised.”


This is not good enough. Surely, the Government need to pull their finger out. In this third month of Brexit, when is this specialised committee actually going to meet?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con) [V]
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My Lords, until the TCA has been ratified in the European Parliament, the Partnership Council and its specialised committees will not start to function. We in the UK are ready for them to be operational and are making our plans.

UK Shellfish Sector

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Wednesday 10th February 2021

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con) [V]
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My Lords, of course I shall seek to answer the noble Baroness’s question. The £23 million fund for financial assistance announced today is for those businesses that suffered a financial loss because of

“delays related to the export of fresh or live fish and shellfish to the EU during January”.

With our dialogue with the Commission, we seek to resume this valued trade from class B waters, which we think is completely justified under the law. What is more, many EU businesses have invested in depuration facilities, and that is what they wish.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the Minister will be very aware of the damage that has been done to various aspects of the fishing industry by the trade and co-operation agreement and the lack of other agreements. It is very important that the Government get their own view over in this case, so would the Minister or one of his colleagues come down to Cornwall with the noble Lord, Lord Frost, who negotiated the deal, to explain all these issues face to face with the industry itself?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con) [V]
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I am grateful to the noble Lord, and this gives me an opportunity to mention the very regular dialogue that there is between Defra and stakeholders that work with the exporters—the UK Seafood Exports Working Group, for instance. Of course I will take back to the Fisheries Minister the point about meeting Cornish fishing interest groups, and I am sure that they will be part of the discussions that we need to have to work towards resolution of some of these matters.

EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement: Fishing Industry

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Tuesday 19th January 2021

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, the Prime Minister announced that £23 million of funding is being made available to support the seafood sector. It will support those parts of the sector that have suffered genuine loss, through no fault of their own, as a result of disruption and delays of seafood exports to Europe. Details will follow shortly. I would say to the noble Baroness that I think there is an uplift in quota for UK fishers equivalent to 25% of the total value taken by EU vessels from UK waters over the five-and-a-half-year period, and 15% of that uplift is in the first year, so I do not identify with her view. What we want to do is work with all parties to ensure there is a smooth passage for this very important sector, and that is what we are doing, with very regular communication and meetings.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I note that the one area where Brexit could have been a real success, and important to one of our important industrial sectors, has been a complete failure in its negotiation. I have two very brief questions for the Minister. First, is it true that EU fleets will continue to have unfettered access to our EEZ to fish species for which there is no quota? Secondly, given the urgency and the crisis there is at the moment for the fishing industry and its exports, have the Government called a meeting of the specialised committee on fisheries with the EU? Has it already done that to resolve these issues urgently?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con) [V]
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My Lords, on the specialised committee on fisheries, those matters are being worked through and there will be an update on that in due course. What I would I say to the noble Lord is that we have been working with industry and also, particularly, with Dutch, French and Irish officials to resolves issues with documentation, which is the key point. On the issue of the trade agreement, I disagree with him. With a 25% uplift in quota, what we want to do is to work with industry, and that is why we have said there is this £100 million fund programme to modernise fleets and the fish processing industry, precisely because we think there is a great future for UK fishing.

Environmental Land Management Schemes

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Monday 14th December 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con)
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My Lords, I can confirm to the noble Baroness that, while clearly we need to safeguard public money, we also think that the bureaucracy involved in the CAP was not proportionate. We want to work collaboratively with farmers but, clearly, we also want to ensure that there is delivery of the environmental benefits that will and must be engaged by these schemes.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, in a very helpful reply to me on a recent Written Question on ELMS and advisory services, the Minister said that the Government would set up an institute for agriculture and horticulture. I welcome that, but will they locate that institute in Cornwall, which is such an excellent example of horticulture and farming?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con)
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My Lords, I will take that back to the Secretary of State.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords & Ping Pong (Minutes of Proceedings): House of Lords
Thursday 12th November 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Consideration of Commons amendments Page View all Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 143-I Marshalled list for Consideration of Commons amendments - (10 Nov 2020)
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con)
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My Lords, as your Lordships will have seen in my letter of 3 November to all Peers, the House of Commons agreed a number of changes to the Bill. I hope my letter was helpful in setting out the reasons for those changes.

Amendment 2 extends the timeframe for the publication of the joint fisheries statement from 18 months after Royal Assent to 24 months. This change was necessary due to the delays in the passage of the Fisheries Bill, mostly, latterly, as a result of Covid-19. Had this amendment not been made, key stages of the drafting and adoption processes would have fallen within the pre-election periods for all three of the devolved legislatures, and so they requested we make this change. We believe it would not be appropriate to be making potentially new policy decisions as part of the JFS drafting process during any pre-election period.

Amendment 5 expressly allows the publication of personal data relating to funding recipients, and Amendments 66, 67 and 68 make equivalent provision in relation to the devolved Administrations’ funding powers. There should be transparency when public funds are made available. The publication of such data is in the public interest and facilitates fraud deterrence and detection. The publication of data on grant beneficiaries was raised during the development of our future funding scheme, and this amendment expressly addresses this concern.

Amendment 77 and the consequential Amendments 13 and 27 strengthen existing legislative protections for seals in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland. The amendments greatly restrict the circumstances in which any intentional killing of a wild seal is lawfully permitted. We have, however, retained important exemptions: it will, for instance, still be lawful to euthanise a wild seal suffering from catastrophic injury, pain or disease.

These changes are necessary for the UK to comply with new import regulations being implemented in the United States of America. From January 2022, the United States will only allow imports of fisheries products from countries that do not allow the killing, injuring or taking of marine mammals as part of commercial fisheries. Not complying with this requirement would result in a significant loss of export revenue for the United Kingdom. In 2019, wild-capture exports to the United States were worth approximately £13.3 million.

Given the possible impact of this change on the catching sector, Defra undertook a targeted consultation in England before committing to any changes. Defra also agreed to legislate on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive, and their respective legislative regime for seals needed time to be worked through. For both these reasons, this amendment had to be introduced at a later stage in the Bill’s passage.

Both environmental non-governmental organisations and parts of industry have responded positively to this change in legislation. The Seal Research Trust said this would improve the welfare of seals. Parts of industry highlighted the potential future importance of the US market.

Amendments 98 and 100 extend specific existing exceptions from landing obligations in the north-western waters and the North Sea respectively so that they apply until 31 December 2021. Two new exemptions are also introduced relating to Norway lobster in the North Sea, replacing an existing exemption and an exemption for plaice in the North Sea that will also be implemented by the EU from January.

These exemptions are supported by scientific evidence collected by the EU’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, which we considered with our world-class scientists in Cefas. We have been clear that scientific evidence will underpin our future fisheries management policies. This particular science and analysis were only available after Report stage in your Lordships’ House.

The other part of Amendment 100 enables the UK to adopt its own conservation measures for North Sea cod from next year, which will apply to all vessels fishing in UK waters by revoking provisions in retained EU law.

Turning to the more minor and technical amendments agreed by the other place, Amendment 8 inserts “sea fishing” to clarify the scope of regulation-making powers under Clauses 36 and 38. Amendment 17 makes a small change to the definition of “minimum conservation reference size” to make clear that it aligns with the widely accepted approach. Amendment 28 removes the Lords privilege amendment. This is a routine procedural issue. Finally, Amendments 78 and 79 update references to two regulations that have been replaced.

The Bill has been enhanced by these changes, ensuring we have the necessary legislation in place to develop our approach to future fisheries management. I beg to move.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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What a delicious irony, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, said. We were told that this Bill could not be amended by ourselves due to devolution—look at all the amendments here—and now we have found out the United States can change this Bill but we cannot. It is a great irony, and interesting arguments about territoriality are coming out. What is interesting is that there is no better ammunition than this to show, if we have a trade deal with the United States, that we should not be having chlorinated chicken or the other things we talk about, given that we have had to concede on seal welfare—not that I do not welcome sea welfare.

What I welcome in particular is the transparency element that comes in. This is important for making it absolutely clear who receives grant schemes or other schemes to help the industry, as any other industry, and how those are received, so we can have a good audit of that process. I welcome that very much.

In terms of the landing in north-west waters, that is an illustration where I agree with the Government. There has to be pragmatism around how we operate the landing of fish. That is why making the detail of that in future, as we discussed in the last group, will be quite complex but essential. Do I take it from that that the exemption is for only one year? Is that exemption there only until the Government have decided what the broader landing rules are? That is my real question.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, I will not detain the House. I have a quick question that arose from a question from the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. Will extending the timeframe of the joint fisheries statement to 24 months have a knock-on effect on fisheries management plans? I just want to check with the Minister that that delay will not cause everything else to be delayed. I apologise for not asking this earlier.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con)
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My Lords, so that I do not mislead the noble Lord, I will write to him about that. Triggering work on the fisheries management plans is another stream of work; a response may come. As it has not, the easiest thing is for me to write to the noble Lord. It is an important point and I am sorry that I do not have the answer before me.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con)
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My Lords, four themes of the changes made by the Government relate to the Bill’s licensing provisions. I would like to make it clear why these changes were necessary and why they were made in the other place. Before I do so, I clarify for the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, today—if that is all right with your Lordships—that fisheries management plans will not be delayed and can be brought forward before the JFS is adopted. Clause 9 specifically provides for this. I am sorry; I should know the Bill better by now, but I hope that helps.

Government Amendments 11 and 26 are necessary to ensure we comply with the provisions of the treaty entered into with Denmark in 1999 on maritime delimitation between the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands. That 1999 agreement provides for a special area in the UK exclusive economic zone, exclusively in Scottish waters, over which both parties exercise jurisdiction for fishery management purposes. The amendments to the Bill ensure that we can implement this treaty and meet that international agreement. They provide that Faroese-authorised foreign vessels can continue to fish in that area, which is 0.01% of the UK EEZ, without also requiring a UK licence. Were these amendments not made, we would not be able to implement the treaty, putting us in breach of our international obligations.

It was only through working on a new framework fisheries agreement with the Faroe Islands throughout this year that we were able to agree the approach to continued implementation of the 1999 treaty and to make these amendments. We have a very positive relationship with the Faroe Islands on improving the way the sea is managed and governed. International negotiations are reserved, but implementing international agreements, for example by licensing fishing boats, is a devolved matter. We have worked closely with officials and Minister Ewing in the Scottish Government, and colleagues across government, to come to an agreed approach that respects both reserved and devolved competence.

Amendments 44 to 63 introduce a contingency arrangement to issue approval for foreign fishing vessels more quickly and make a consequential wording change. The preferred approach is to issue individual licences to foreign vessels which, following negotiations, may fish in UK waters. Experience has shown that, sometimes, some annual fisheries negotiations can extend into the next fishing year. It could then take some time for the various parties to collate the information needed for the licensing process. During this time, fishing activities would be disrupted, which could cause unnecessary tensions. We do not want to exacerbate those tensions or disrupt fishing further. This is a pragmatic response to such a circumstance and has the support of the devolved Administrations.

To manage this, the other place agreed to introduce this contingency approach, which would allow approval to be issued for a list of vessels, rather than individual vessels. This approval would be faster, but time limited until individual licences can be issued.

Amendment 64 revokes legislation in England, Wales and Scotland made as a contingency in March 2019 in the absence of the Fisheries Bill and in anticipation of an earlier departure from the EU. The Northern Irish legislation has already been revoked. The Bill provides for the regulation of foreign boats fishing in UK waters if access is negotiated. All foreign vessels approved to fish in UK waters will need a UK licence. We waited until we thought we had certainty that the Bill would receive Royal Assent before the end of this year before making these amendments as its licensing regime replicates and supersedes that in the contingency SIs.

Amendment 99 and consequential Amendments 97 and 101 are clear examples of where close collaboration between the four fisheries administrations has proved invaluable in ensuring that the Bill is doing what it needs to. The amendment revokes Regulation (EU) 2017/2403 on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets, known as SMEFF. This regulation sets out part of the EU’s licensing framework. This is broadly similar to the UK’s framework for licensing so there is no need for a parallel regime such as SMEFF. I am grateful to Scottish officials for identifying the need for this change. That is why the other place agreed to revoke it.

Finally, on minor and technical amendments relating to licensing, Amendments 9, 70, 74 and 76 make minor changes to provisions that prevent powers in Clauses 36, 38, and Schedule 8 being used to modify the Bill’s licensing functions. Amendment 65 clarifies licensing transitional provisions. Two amendments were also made at the request of the Crown dependencies to Schedule 4, which deals with minor and consequential licensing amendments.

These are the changes that have been needed to the Bill’s licensing provisions and why they were brought forward in the other place. I beg to move.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
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My Lords, I thank the Minister, because I had never heard of this 1999 treaty before. It is quite important because we are in the ratification process of a UK-Faroes fisheries agreement. I will raise one or two things about this which perhaps the Minister can explain to me.

Commons Amendment 11 is very strict. It says:

“No prohibition, restriction or obligation relating to sea fishing imposed by any enactment applies to … anything done or not done by or in relation to a foreign fishing boat”


that is a Faroe Islands-regulated vessel. Given that this is our EEZ, that seems to take away completely our rights to inspect or apply any regulation whatever to Faroes vessels fishing within our EEZ within this special zone. That seems a very asymmetric agreement or condition, given that our own vessels presumably still have to do that. Having read the treaty very quickly, Article IV says that we have no rights of inspection whatever. I am sure that the Government have this worked out but I would like to be reassured that we have some way of making sure that this area is responsibly fished. Occasionally, we have our disagreements with the Faroes. We generally have a good relationship with the Faroes, and obviously with Denmark as the ultimate sovereign nation. However, a couple of years ago we had a strong dispute over fisheries there regarding a particular species, so there are examples of the Faroes and us falling out. I would appreciate the Minister’s explanation of that.

I wished to bring up one other matter but I will leave it at that. That is my key issue on this area and I hope that the Minister will be able to help me.

Agriculture Bill

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, the Government have sought that flexibility in how we reduce the payments, as I say. Although we will make announcements on funding for the early years of agricultural transition, we have also provided that flexibility for unforeseen circumstances in which, for instance, we would need to extend the agricultural transition period.

We want to start in 2021 because this is a journey—to pick up some of the points at the beginning—about how we work with health and harmony. How do we ensure, working with farmers, that we produce very good food and enhance the environment? Of course, I take the point that we must get the system working well, but the prize in all this—public money going to support farmers in enhancing the environment—is a very desirable thing.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson [V]
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My Lords, I first thank the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for his support. We are not often on the same side of things and I very much appreciate his remarks and the considered remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge, and even the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, who understand the biodiversity dimensions of this, even if they do not—[Inaudible.]

There is a real issue here. Funnily enough, I do not disagree with the view of the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, about pushing back the start one year, just to make sure we get this incredibly important issue for the nation right before we start. But I cannot believe it can take seven years for a nation such as ours to implement a new system; five years is far more acceptable for what we have to do. In fact, it seems the seven years that many advocate is going back to the mentality of the common agricultural policy and the European Union—that slo-mo mindset that we are trying to escape with this new scheme. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Agriculture Bill

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansarad) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansarad): House of Lords
Tuesday 7th July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I did not have an opportunity to flesh out the tests and trials. The tests and trials on the ELM are designed to work with ranges of farmers in different topographies and tenures in all parts of the country. There are schemes that will be suitable. In this case, there are clearly tests and trials with hill farmers in the uplands so that we can ensure that those schemes are in place. Some are under way already and farmers are receiving financial assistance for participating in them.

When we roll out the entire ELM in 2024, we want to follow the success in the recording and improving of those tests and trials so that we can ensure that, in the case of the noble Lord’s concern about hill farmers, these schemes will automatically work for them. Hill farmers are key to ensuring that the environmental enhancements we all want are available. I am confident that, working with those hill farmers, we will get the sorts of schemes that will be of benefit and that the farmers will actively wish to be engaged in.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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I thank the Minister for his extensive reply. I was particularly pleased that he mentioned the shared prosperity fund. I realise that it is not a Defra issue, but it is an important structural issue and there has been very little information about when this fund, which is a Conservative Party manifesto pledge, will actually start. While I would like to ask him that question, I am sure he does not know the answer to it as it is not a Defra issue. However, will he really press his colleagues in Government to get this fund going? The EU structural funding is going to end very soon. There will be an end there, and it is very important that the rural parts of that funding start. Will he press his colleagues to get announcements here so that people can prepare and not have this gap?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I am most grateful to the noble Lord. Clearly, rural-proofing means that anything we do across Whitehall should be considered in terms of the impact on rural communities, and UK shared prosperity means rural communities. I am also grateful because I can assure him that the whole of Defra takes this approach and, as Minister for Rural Affairs, I get my teeth into this regularly because clearly we need to work with MHCLG so that this goes across all communities and will benefit rural communities, which, after all, have so much to offer the country.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading
Wednesday 1st July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con)
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My Lords, I express my gratitude to noble Lords for their interest in the Bill and their contributions. In particular, I thank my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern and my noble friends Lord Caithness and Lord Blencathra for their stalwart support. I also thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Whitchurch and Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, and the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, from the Opposition Front Benches for our constructive dialogue as we have navigated together through the complexities of fisheries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 24th June 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am grateful for the noble Lord’s amendment and I can be unequivocal in saying that the Government fully support the principle behind it.

Let me be clear in emphasising the importance that the Government place on this country, as an independent coastal state, having the best possible monitoring and enforcement. To achieve that, it is important that we remain flexible and do not prescribe one specific action in the Bill. Leaving the common fisheries policy and taking the Bill forward with its many enabling powers means that we can now design and implement the right policies to fit our diverse fisheries. We must indeed grasp this opportunity, working in close co-operation with all those who have an interest in a healthy marine environment, including the fishing industry. I agree with my noble friend Lord Naseby that this will best be done by working in consort with the fishing industry,

I am very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, referred to the Environment Bill, the Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill. They all make very clear the Government’s intent to enhance the marine and terrestrial environments and all that goes with them.

As I made clear at earlier stages of the Bill, lawyers have advised that the Bill already provides the Government with the necessary powers, in paragraphs (h) and (q) of Clause 36(4), to mandate the use of remote electronic monitoring on both domestic and foreign vessels—I emphasise that point—fishing in English waters or across UK waters, if that is agreed with the devolved Administrations, as provided for in Clause 40.

The Clause 36 provisions also allow the Government to introduce new and emerging monitoring and enforcement technologies. We all agree that we want to move to a situation where the UK has the best possible monitoring and enforcement regime. However, REM may well find itself being replaced by something more contemporary and more effective in the near future—a point that my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern alluded to. In terms of good law-making, putting something on the face of the Bill that we are already able to do and know that we will want to change in the future is, in our view, not desirable. Instead, providing for its use in secondary legislation allows us to remain flexible and to react more quickly to the latest scientific and technological advances.

The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, referred to other future technologies, and these are being explored by the MMO, including through a joint project with Defra looking into the use of drones more widely. The MMO has previously used a drone to review aquaculture compliance and has used drone data to inform another investigation. Were we, in future, to legislate for these advances in technology, we would be able to do so through secondary legislation.

In addition, I remind noble Lords that monitoring and enforcement are devolved policies. The amendment covers the whole of the United Kingdom, which is contrary to our devolved settlements. It is also contrary to the spirit of the Bill with regard to how we develop fisheries policy, where we seek to build consensus with our devolved Administrations. A number of noble Lords, including my noble friends the Duke of Montrose and Lord Randall and the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, asked about this, and I will be very straightforward in my reply. The Scottish and Welsh Governments do not support the amendment. REM is being used in their waters in different and appropriate ways. For example, the Scottish Government are rolling it out across their scallop fleet, but their view is that the broad-brush approach in this amendment is not welcome.

In response to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, we have small inshore boats that can catch as little as a couple of pots of shellfish or a box of white fish on a single fishing trip, larger boats that use multiple gear types throughout the year and target many different species, and large pelagic vessels that can catch hundreds of tonnes of pelagic species in a single fishing trip. Each of these would benefit from different approaches to enforcement, as the risks are different for each of them. Even with the differentiation between over and under-10-metre vessels, as set out in the amendment, a one-size-fits-all approach to managing these diverse over-10-metre fisheries does not, in our view, work. The amendment does not reflect this variation. Instead, it calls for a blanket rollout of REM on all over-10-metre vessels, irrespective of the fisheries in which those vessels operate or their impact on the marine environment. To put it into context, in 2018 there were more than 514 over-10-metre vessels in England alone.

Another point I should raise is that REM is not just an enforcement tool. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, referred to this. It can be used to collect scientific data on things such as catch composition or to assess which gear type is most selective. This could in turn help us better understand the health of our fish stock and wider marine environment. As an amateur ornithologist, I was interested in my noble friend Lord Randall’s points about fulmars and guillemots. It is right that we maximise the benefits of any electronic monitoring by ensuring that wherever possible it can address multiple objectives. However, that brings new questions which must be addressed. For example, we expect that the images collected for enforcement purposes may not be wholly appropriate for scientific data collection. We must ask ourselves what changes we can make to the camera set-up that will allow us to do both.

I also want to use this opportunity to draw out some other issues we must address before committing to a rollout of REM. The first is cost, including up-front costs such as hardware and installation and even greater ongoing costs such as maintenance and storing and reviewing the data collected. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the initial cost of an REM system is around £9,000. That does not cover any ongoing costs, which also need to be factored in. We believe it is right that we conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of all our options to make sure that we are using the most effective tools for the job. REM costs are not insignificant. Indeed, profitability across the 10-metre sector can vary, and some segments operate with very low profits.

In response to the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, the Government do and will consider all technology. I am grateful to the noble Lord for raising what is going on in other countries because we want to make sure that we get the right technology for all our fisheries and our marine environment. Clearly, we must work closely with all our neighbours, including those in the EU and other coastal states, to ensure we have compatible monitoring and enforcement systems. This amendment recognises that we would need time to work through issues such as how we would store data and share it between countries before requiring REM to be used on foreign vessels fishing in UK waters. Sensitive personal data could be collected via these systems, so we must have a robust data protection approach in place before a widespread scheme could be rolled out.

I say to my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering and to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, who mentioned England, that the Government have already taken a number of steps to test and, where appropriate, use camera equipment in our fisheries, so I gently chide the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulescoomb, about her suggestion that perhaps we are not doing anything. We are already undertaking these matters. We are running the English fully documented fisheries scheme whereby we put cameras on vessels operating in the North Sea cod fishery. This scheme has shown that REM can be an effective tool to monitor and enforce the landing obligation. Defra is also launching a project this year to use electronic monitoring in the complex mixed Celtic Sea fishery, focusing on generating scientific evidence on catch composition. This will build on previous studies in the south-west focused on haddock. We expect data collection to start in the autumn, with initial results emerging next year.

On the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, about data on shellfish, there are a number of projects already under way relating to non-quota shellfish and improving the quality and quantity of data collected for these fisheries. One of the projects to improve data collection in England is a king scallop stock assessment programme that is jointly funded by Defra and industry at a cost of around £450,000 per year, and there are further projects.

The noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, also asked about the implementation of real-time closures. Indeed, the United Kingdom already closes certain fisheries at certain times of the year to protect juvenile or spawning fish.

The Government are developing an integrated package of reforms to be phased in over the coming years, once we have left the transition period and the Bill receives Royal Assent. This will include new tailored approaches to monitoring and enforcement. I think we are all on the same page as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. We all understand, since we are good custodians, that monitoring and enforcement will be vital for both domestic and foreign vessels fishing in our waters. I say candidly that there are strong reasons why setting out in the Bill explicit requirements to use REM—I have explained to noble Lords that we have been using it and undertaking trials—when it might be superseded by new technologies, could inhibit the UK delivering the right policy. I am dutybound to draw that to your Lordships’ attention.

I know exactly what we all desire. I am sure that the noble Lord will say that it is not happening fast enough, but we need to work with industry and with the devolved Administrations. We need to work with our partners in other waters as well. We all like action this day, but sometimes these things should be done in consultation and by working together to get them right, although I absolutely respect the desire for action this day. I hope, with that rather lengthy explanation, that the noble Lord will at least feel able to consider withdrawing his amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I really find it interesting that the Minister is arguing for a level playing field with the European Union over fisheries regulations. That is fantastic. I shall tell Michel Barnier that the Minister is on board with all the European Union’s demands.

This is a really important issue. I will be as brief as I can, but I want to thank all noble Lords for their contributions. The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, is absolutely right about retailers, but let us get ahead of the retailers, for goodness sake. Let us get our industry match fit before the retailers come and say that this has to be implemented, and other people do it first. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Randall, in particular. Bycatch of birds is a whole area that is important in itself.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, asked who would enforce this. Marine Scotland, the Northern Ireland authorities, the MMO in England and the Welsh authorities would enforce it. On who pays for the technology, although it now costs way less than £9,000—I think it is estimated at £3,500 per year for these systems, which is an absolute fraction of the turnover of vessels over 10 metres—we can have government schemes. The European Union had schemes to pay for such implementations and the Government have promised to replace the European funding to the fisheries funds, so that could be used if we want to do it.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, implied that we somehow should not catch people doing illegal things. That is a really strange concept. I spent 20 years in the haulage industry. I remember the industry arguing about tachographs in the early 1970s—“We can’t have those”, “Spy in the cab” and all of that. Thank goodness, the Government kept their nerve and did it. Was it a problem afterwards? No. Tachographs gave excellent management information and made sure that the law and road safety regulations were complied with. No one has looked back since. I do not recall the noble and learned Lord asking for the repeal of tachographs in the haulage industry.

I agree absolutely with the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. There is no stronger argument: the common fisheries policy did fail on this. We have this opportunity to put the common fisheries policy absolutely right.

As for all the rest of the changes that the noble Lord mentioned, all the regulations will stay exactly the same, because we have now embedded them in UK law. The regulations governing fisheries will not change on 1 January 2021, so far as I can see. We would then start to change them as time goes on.

The point is that, as the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, said, we need to get on with it. This is a tried and tested technology, both globally and in the United Kingdom, and the fisheries industry is used to it. I notice that the Minister has not taken me up on my offer of getting round the devolution problem by making this an England-only application, which I would have been prepared to talk about. No, this is something that we need to get on with. The marine environment is important, we are an independent coastal state, we have foreign vessels coming into a very large EEZ, and we need to ensure that they are monitored and that we increase our data for the science. We just need to get on with this, and on that basis, I wish to test the opinion of the House.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords & Report stage
Monday 22nd June 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for the opportunity to discuss these amendments and to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I am interested that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, did not believe that the Government thought that fish somehow go about. Perhaps I may reassure the House that we recognise that fully; there is nothing in the Bill to suggest anything else.

We recognise fully that it is essential to manage fish stocks across shared boundaries. Many of our important stocks migrate to and from, or are simply spread across, the waters of the UK, those of other states and the high seas. As the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, mentioned, our international obligations require us to work with other countries on the management of shared stocks. It is therefore imperative—I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Teverson—that our policies take this into account and are effectively co-ordinated with other states.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, raised international co-operation, which is critical to achieving the ambitious objectives set in the Fisheries Bill. We recognise this, and it will be integral to the joint fisheries statement. For example, the ecosystem objective requires us to use an ecosystem-based approach to manage fish activities and to minimise and where possible eliminate incidental catches of sensitive species. This cannot be achieved without considering the needs of migratory species across their range and by working closely with our neighbouring states. The scientific evidence objective requires us to follow the best available scientific advice, which will entail working closely with other countries, as well as international bodies such as ICES. As further reassurance, the joint fisheries statement will indeed include our approach to co-ordinating with adjacent coastal states and, among other elements, how migration of species into and from adjacent exclusive economic zones or territorial waters will be taken into account in that co-ordination.

I also emphasise the importance of another piece of the legal framework which is not covered in this Bill as it is already part of our international agreements. As noble Lords will be aware, we do not as a matter of course restate international legal commitments in domestic legislation, but that does not mean that they do not continue to be relevant to the United Kingdom. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea—in particular, Articles 63, 64, 66 and 67 of UNCLOS—already provides an internationally recognised and binding set of requirements setting out how states should co-ordinate in, among other things, managing shared and migratory stocks that occur in their waters. The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, raised this issue. These requirements are given further effect and developed in more detail in the UN fish stocks agreement. These already oblige us to take into account the nature of such stocks and to co-operate with other states in their management. We should be mindful not simply to duplicate existing international obligations in domestic legislation, which I fear could be a consequence of this amendment.

The Government are committed to continued close co-operation with our regional neighbours and international partners more widely. We will join regional fisheries management organisations as an independent contracting party. In so doing, our commitment to fulfil the obligations that come as part of RFMO membership will continue, but having our own seat at the table will give us a renewed opportunity to co-ordinate effectively with other states.

We also intend to develop new fisheries agreements with other coastal states so that we can work directly with them to develop frameworks for effective management of shared stocks. The more detailed aspects of the co-ordination with other states—by which I mean the arrangements we make with them on the management of shared or migratory stocks—will be determined through the annual cycle of RFMO meetings and consultations with other states. Our approach to these consultations will need to remain flexible and adaptable in order to co-ordinate effectively with other states, whose own positions will change and evolve, and to reflect the dynamic nature of fisheries management. For this reason, Clause 10(1) includes provisions for some flexibility in our approach due to changes in circumstances, which could include changes relating to the United Kingdom’s international obligations. It is for this reason also that stipulating the detail we should include in the joint fisheries statement on matters of international co-operation presents difficulties.

I will raise some specific points on Amendments 12 and 13. As noble Lords will know, international law and domestic law are different legal systems. While we will of course use our best endeavours to seek to agree sustainable management of shared stocks, the legal position is unequivocal: we cannot impose requirements on other states via domestic law. International agreements are creatures of international, not domestic, law. Amendments 12 and 13 seek to bind foreign states to comply with UK law in respect of developing management plans for shared stocks. Those states clearly would be bound by any international agreement agreed with the UK, but we cannot use a UK statute to bind other states.

I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, found the discussion of fisheries management plans of some use. I was grateful to all noble Lords who attended those meetings and am genuinely very pleased that the noble Lord found these matters positive in principle. These management plans—I say this also to my noble friend Lord Lansley—are designed to be a domestic UK model for managing fishery activity within the UK waters. As I have said, the process of agreeing joint management plans with other countries in relation to shared stocks is necessarily separate under international law. We will set out our policies for doing this in the joint fisheries statement.

There will also clearly be links between international plans and our domestic fisheries plans. Measures agreed internationally will be reflected in our fisheries management plans, and we will seek to ensure that measures we support are adopted in international plans. The joint fisheries statement would include policies on how we intend to do this in practice.

On a separate matter, this amendment does not take account of the UK Government’s reserved competence in relation to international negotiations. This amendment would place a duty on all the fisheries administrations to seek to reach agreement on shared stocks. International negotiations are a reserved matter, and one in which the UK Government should represent the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom, engaging—I emphasise —with the devolved Administrations through our established consultation processes.

I take extremely seriously all that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and others have said. I have set out the position as I see it, but I absolutely emphasise that the only way in which we are all going to have success on these matters—a vibrant ecosystem and a vibrant fishing industry—is through co-operation. That is absolutely intrinsic to both our international obligations and the way in which we have constructed the Bill. Yes, it is a framework Bill, but there is more coming for parliamentary scrutiny and consultation.

I hope that the noble Lord will be reassured that the matters he raised are taken extremely seriously. They are absolutely pertinent to a successful fisheries system across our waters and those we share with our neighbours. For tonight, I very much hope he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister very much for that positive and upbeat response, and I thank all noble Lords who have contributed—particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, illustrating the particular issues between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Sometimes we over on this side, in Great Britain, look a little too often just to those on the other side of the North Sea and the channel, rather than the Irish Sea.

There is absolutely nothing in Amendments 12 or 13 that tries to bind any foreign state to anything, but I do not want to go down a negative route on this. I am very assured by the Minister’s response. The Government’s tone on this seems to have changed substantially since Committee. Maybe we were talking at cross purposes in Committee—I am not sure. From the conversations we have had with his officials over these management plans, it certainly seems clear that they expect to engage strongly with adjacent coastal and EEZ states.

It was useful that the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, mentioned the science, ICES and the fact that we continue to share that resource. Both we and the European Union at least—and Norway, I presume—use ICES. On mackerel stock, that is a pelagic species; stocks in that area are a lot more straightforward than in a mixed fishery, as in the Celtic and south-west seas.

Given the Minister’s very positive response and that of his officials when we have had discussions, I feel far more confident that these management plans will achieve what we both want them to. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 4th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 11th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps I may make an obvious point. It is generally understood that discarding is continuing as it always has done and that there is very little change in fishers’ activity in that regard. Therefore, bringing in a charge will be a greater incentive to them to carry on as they are at the moment. I welcome this initiative but for the scheme to be successful there has to be remote electronic monitoring or whatever on the vessels so that fishers cannot discard at sea. The scheme will work only if that is done; otherwise, it will be an additional incentive to discard.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

That reminds me of a point that my noble friend Lady McIntosh raised. We have had a discussion about the requirements—not only REM but all the ways in which we need to work. We absolutely need to work with industry but we also need to say to it, “It is in your vital interests to work on this area because, in the end, if there aren’t sustainable stocks, there isn’t a sustainable industry”. They are so intertwined. I repeat that, once a scheme is up and running, the existing arrangements for prosecution of overfishing and the issuing of fines remain. This is an add-on, a further tool. There are other countries where it has worked well; this is an opportunity and work is in hand. We want to get the best scheme. It is important that we look internationally to see where it has worked and where it has not so that, when we deploy this, it hits the right target.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps I may come back to the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, whose point is well made. I have probably not written the amendment exactly as it should be and he is right to pull me up on it. What I am trying to say is that that part of the amendment seeks to recognise that there has to be some sort of relationship between the charging regime and the ability of a particular unit in the fisheries industry to make money. It is clear that there is a deep division in the sector between larger vessels, which on the whole are pretty profitable to very profitable, and the under 10-metre sector, which struggles rather more. I would not want to see punitive charges being put on that sector because that would not be the way to proceed.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his amendment. It is Government policy to set charges in order to recover, where possible and appropriate, the costs of services provided to industry, which is why we are using this Bill as an opportunity to expand the existing powers available to the MMO. I should also say at this juncture that I want to acknowledge the noble Lord’s service during his time with the MMO, which I have been informed about many times. He has an advantage over us all in terms of knowing the inner workings of the organisation.

Currently, the costs of regulating sea fisheries management functions are met by the taxpayer. Fisheries management is one element of the broader function, although it includes other activities that will not be included within the scope of the charging power. However, in line with Treasury guidance, it may be more appropriate for some costs to be met by those being regulated. This may sometimes include services relating to compliance and monitoring.

The charging powers under the Fisheries Bill will enable us to move over time to increased cost recovery for the MMO where appropriate, thus ensuring consistency with the application of charges to other users of MMO-regulated services and more widely across the Defra group. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for his comments, which I will take away as well. We are all in public service and we want to get these things done in as timely a way as possible.

As set out in the Fisheries White Paper, costs recovery will ensure that the MMO has the funding it needs to carry out a process of continuous improvement, making the service it runs as efficient as possible. We will need to work closely with industry to agree the pace of this change to ensure that it is sustainable. That is why the clause also places an obligation on the Secretary of State to consult appropriate persons before implementing a charging scheme. This will provide the industry with an early indication of the type of services being proposed, the detail of the charges’ composition, and when the charges are going to be brought into effect. I should also say to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that paragraph 7(3) of Schedule 3 to the Bill already provides for the relevant national authority—in England, the Secretary of State—to make regulations authorising the making of charges in relation to a sea fishing licence.

Amendment 118 would change the parliamentary procedure for regulations made under Clause 34 from the negative resolution procedure to the affirmative. The Government have carefully considered the delegated powers in the Bill and the procedures which should apply to regulations. We consider that we have struck the right balance between the need for parliamentary scrutiny and the need to be able to update MMO charges through secondary legislation. Indeed, I am reminded that it is usual for fees and charges to be imposed by arm’s-length bodies to be set out in regulations made under the negative resolution procedure. A recent example is the power for the Secretary of State to charge fees through regulations under the Ivory Act 2018, where the negative procedure is used.

As highlighted earlier when we discussed the procedure for the days at sea regulations, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has reconfirmed in its report of 26 February its view that we have struck the right balance with all our delegated powers in this Bill.

Turning to Amendment 119, the MMO has some existing cost-recovery powers that are currently utilised for marine activity. An activity for which the MMO currently charges is customer-initiated advice direct to developers without Planning Inspectorate involvement. Such developers could seek licences for building wind farms, for example. While the reasons for the amendment are entirely understandable, the Government feel that prohibiting the MMO receiving grant in aid funding would risk significantly limiting the activities it currently provides to industry. It is current government policy not to charge for activities such as control and enforcement, marine planning, research and delivering grant schemes. If the MMO were put under an obligation to self-fund entirely, there would be difficulties with charging for and delivering the activities I just outlined.

So far as paragraphs (b) and (c) in the amendment are concerned, there are existing government guidelines in place to provide guidance on cost recovery. Clause 34 also sets a statutory requirement for the Secretary of State to consult before any charging scheme is introduced. The industry would therefore be fully engaged with any decision on a proposed scheme.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful for the Minister’s reply. Did I hear correctly that the Bill already gives powers to charge for the licensing of fishing vessels or the variation of those licences?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

Yes; as I said, it is in the Bill. Paragraph 7(3) of Schedule 3 provides for the relevant national authority—the Secretary of State in England’s case—to make regulations

“authorising the making of charges in relation to a sea fishing licence.”

If there is any embellishment to some elements of that, I will include it in the letter, but that is what Schedule 3 says.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for that reassurance, and for his extensive reply. Regarding the funding of the MMO, I fully agree that it has some broader activities, including marine planning, although I am not aware that it does research. That is new to me.

The direction of travel is absolutely right, and there are all sorts of challenges. We know that departmental budgets get cut. Defra is always on the front line of those cuts, as is the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and a number of others. When cuts occur, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies have their budgets cut as well, and although we expect increased efficiency from all those bodies, sometimes they are unable to provide exactly those services, as the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, illustrated. We must try to free them from that, because on the whole, what do users of those services want? They want quick decisions; they want to invest in offshore wind, or marinas, or coastal developments or nuclear power stations. Obviously, they are worried about the charges, but they want action. If there is proper cost recovery and those resources can be put against those needs, it will suit everybody, because everybody can get on with the job they want to do. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 9th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am very grateful to the Minister, particularly for his very helpful answer on recreational fisheries matters. I felt his answer on capacity was useful, but I just want to be clear. Is he saying that after this year, even when the Bill becomes an Act, through retained common fisheries policy law, the capacity rules from the common fisheries policy will remain for the United Kingdom? That is what I understood, and I am fully reassured.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

I repeat that the requirement on the UK to limit its fleet will become part of retained EU law.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for her Amendments 77A and 80A, and to other noble Lords for their amendments, which, in various ways, seek to place requirements on fisheries licensing authorities to introduce onboard monitoring equipment and cameras on British boats and foreign vessels fishing in UK waters. I reiterate that this Government remain fully committed to reducing bycatch and ending the wasteful discarding of fish. While we recognise the potential of onboard monitoring and cameras as an effective technology to monitor, control and enforce the end of wasteful discarding, Amendment 77A could divert us from taking a more appropriate, risk-based, intelligence-led enforcement approach through vessel monitoring systems and aerial surveillance, for example, as well as ones that may develop in the future, such as onboard observers or drones.

Control and enforcement, and fishing vessel licensing, are both devolved matters. The amendment cuts across devolved competence by trying to prescribe this at a UK level. It is for each devolved Administration to decide how best to control their waters, tailoring their management measures to their specific industry.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just remind the Minister—this comes back to something the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, said—that last Wednesday, when we last discussed the Bill, the Minister made it clear that the whole area of objectives is a devolved area, yet the Government have put all those objectives in. It seems to me that the Minister is saying, “Do what I say, not what I do.” The Government have put in devolved measures, but they are saying to Parliament that we should not. I find that very difficult.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

I am sorry that the noble Lord finds it difficult. The objectives have been agreed with the devolved Administrations; they have asked us to legislate with the agreement of those objectives which are in Clause 1. However, as the noble Lord knows better than I, all the things I have outlined ad nauseam about the seeking of amendments mean that they cut across the settlement we have with the devolved Administrations. I am very pleased to say that the devolved Administrations have come together, have agreed and have asked us to legislate on these matters in Clause 1 and, indeed, in the schedules that relate to those issues that the devolved Administrations would like us to deal with in the Bill.

I sense that the noble Lord and others may want it all best ways, which would mean that somehow we do not respect the fact that the devolved Administrations have it entirely in their gift to make the arrangements they so wish. For instance, my noble friend Lady McIntosh asked about the discard prevention charging scheme in Clause 29(1). This provides that

“‘chargeable person’ means—(a) the holder of an English sea fishing licence, or (b) a producer organisation that has at least one member who is the holder of an English sea fishing licence.”

We are taking measures where we can, which is where we can make those provisions, but it is entirely up to the devolved Administrations.

If the noble Lord will let me, I shall outline some of the areas where I hope he will be pleased, also, that the devolved Administrations are working on this, but it is their right to do it through their own legislation as well. I hope we will not go around in circles.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Have the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Welsh Assembly approved these measures? The Government are saying, “These are devolved areas” and have put it in a UK-wide Bill. Parliament here is doing exactly the same. We are a UK Chamber, just as the Minister’s Government are a UK Government. They have not got permission from those legislatures, so we have to take on that role ourselves. I do not take the Government’s point on this at all.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

I think I will take this offline with the noble Lord, because why are those schedules in the Bill, specifically requested by the devolved Administrations, giving them the powers that we are also seeking through the Bill? The Bill comes with the working, active collaboration—as I have said almost every day in Committee and at Second Reading—of all the devolved Administrations.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Monday 9th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard - continued) Page View all Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-IV Fourth marshalled list for Committee - (9 Mar 2020)
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I absolutely understand the point made by the noble Baroness. My assessment is that this is at the right level, and the fact is that the Royal Navy is growing or doubling its vessels. That is why I emphasised the phrase “at least”. There is an agreement between the MMO and the Royal Navy about those two things. I emphasised “at least”; all our efforts will be to ensure that there are no difficulties at sea, which would be in no one’s interests. That is precisely why I explained about the doubling of the number of front-line warranted officers, and why I outlined increasing aerial surveillance and the work of surveillance technologies. All this is upscaling, precisely to accommodate the point made by the noble Baroness, if we are in potentially uncertain times, rather than where we were before. I described the increase in almost every feature of what is available to us at sea, including technology and personnel, to accommodate the possibilities that the noble Baroness outlined. I am basing my judgment on a much more rigorous assessment than me just saying yes to the noble Baroness. It is also why JMOCC is so important, because so much of this is intertwined with those organisations involved in JMOCC. It is terribly important that the MMO and Marine Scotland are part of that because there may be a time when fisheries protection becomes an issue and all this resource across the United Kingdom and the Royal Navy may need to be deployed.

I will say that the answer is yes, but it is not a glib yes. It is because the people who understand these areas have assessed and advised us that we should increase what we have done. That is why I am confident that we are where we should be. However, I emphasise to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that it is really important that all these matters are kept under review. That is why I deliberately emphasised that, on this matter, there is strong working with all four fisheries administrations in the United Kingdom interest.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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How long will the temporary financing of extra resources last and when it will end? At that point, there will be a question mark. Will we go back to where we were when, effectively, for many years there was no real access to the Royal Navy at all because it was off doing other things? This is a really important point to clarify.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I apologise to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness that I have no further detail other than to say that I am confident. We have upscaled in the way that we have—constructing vessels and all we are doing is not like turning on and off a tap—and are increasing the number of Royal Navy vessels for this sort of demand. If we were to need additional support because something happened, I am confident that all the resources would be at our disposal.

I do not think we need to discuss a theoretical point, but if in 10, five or three years’ time all is well and we have good negotiations and agreements, the most important thing—the responsibility that all Governments should have—is the safety of UK interests and the safety of people at sea. Obviously, we will need to have all that I have outlined with the assessment that the MMO is constantly reviewing. I imagine that, down the line, there may be an assessment that there is not much of an issue and we are working towards having that capability, but that would be for the future. For now and for the foreseeable future, however, it is precisely why the Navy is upscaling the number of vessels and why we have done what we have by increasing the number on the front line.

I have been handed a note that says that all matters for future enforcement funding will be the subject of the spending review, but we will put in a robust bid, as befits our status as an independent coastal state. I hope I have not offended the Treasury by saying that.

I apologise. I should have addressed that, but in the meantime, I hope I have outlined to the noble Baroness that this is obviously an area of continuing interest and continuing responsibility.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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Perhaps the Minister can write to me with the figures for the current enforcement budget for England and the amount of Brexit special funding from the Treasury. They are discrete amounts and I would be interested to know what they are.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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Yes, I will endeavour to ensure that a letter is directed to the noble Lord and the noble Baroness and put in the Library.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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My Lords, I am very pleased to support the amendment. If there has been one mistake made since the referendum—apart from the result of the referendum which, of course, is indisputable and I entirely accept—it is that the Government have attempted to exclude Parliament from so much. That has been part of the reason why we have had the three years of turmoil that we have had. It is therefore important that the Government keep Parliament involved or up to date on how these negotiations are working; though clearly Parliament is not looking for the final resolution, those negotiations have to take place in that context.

Last week, I was concerned that when the Secretary of State was in front of the EU sub-committee, he stated that the Scottish Administration—or a Scottish Minister—would not be allowed in the room when the negotiations took place. He was very specific about it: I questioned him and checked what he had said. He said it was because this was not a devolved matter but a matter for the United Kingdom. It was slightly ironic, given the discussions we have had on this Bill. Will the Government reconsider that position, because the Scottish fishing industry is fundamental to the UK fishing industry? This is an area on which the Government ought to change their view. I very much support the amendment and the spirit in which it was introduced.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am also grateful to the noble Baroness for her amendment. The UK Government remain committed to keeping Parliament and the public informed of the progress of negotiations. On 27 February, the Government published The Future Relationship with the EU: The UK’s Approach to Negotiations. This makes clear that the UK and the EU have committed to use best endeavours to agree a new fisheries agreement by 1 July 2020. In line with the practice of other independent coastal states, the agreement would provide a framework for annual negotiations on access and quota and set out a mechanism for co-operation on fisheries matters where we share an interest with the EU. The Prime Minister has already committed to providing further details as the negotiating process develops. Both Houses will also have access to their usual arrangements for scrutinising the actions of the Government—and I am in no doubt, looking at various noble Lords here tonight, that your Lordships will take full advantage of these.

As your Lordships will be aware, negotiations for a fisheries framework agreement and our future relationship with the EU started last week. It is important to note that, as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster noted in the other place, the UK Government hope that by June, the broad outline of an agreement will be clear and capable of being rapidly finalised by September. Subsection (1)(b) in the amendment itself refers to distant waters. It is not clear whether “distant waters” was intended to have a specific meaning, but we have taken it to mean waters for which the UK is not the relevant coastal state and which are outside EU waters. Therefore, I make it clear that we will also seek to negotiate fisheries framework agreements with key partners in other coastal states, such as Norway. Again, these agreements will pave the way for annual negotiations on access and fishing opportunities in third-country waters, which I know will be of particular interest to our distant-waters fleet and others whose businesses rely on accessing fishing opportunities in those waters.

As with negotiations with the EU, the Government will keep Parliament informed of the progress of these negotiations. Where we have fisheries or conservation interests in international waters, the UK will join relevant regional fisheries management organisations in its own right and, in so doing, we will continue to collaborate with other coastal states where we have shared interests in fisheries in international waters.

In all these negotiations, leaving the EU creates an opportunity for the UK to secure a fairer sharer of quota, or fishing opportunities, for our own fleets. I assure noble Lords that that is what this Government are determined to achieve but, with all these negotiations, the UK Government must retain flexibility—we may not agree but I think the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, was going along those lines—with regard to the timing and content of our updates to Parliament, in order not to undermine our positions in live and ongoing negotiations. We believe that the amendment would remove this flexibility, obliging the Government to publish a statement at a particular time, potentially while negotiations are still ongoing. This risks undermining our negotiating positions entirely.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, for his amendment, and to the noble Baroness who moved it. Although I recognise that the aim of the amendment is to make it compulsory for the Secretary of State to determine annual fishing opportunities, it would oblige the Secretary of State to determine all fishing opportunities on an annual basis. Some stocks are determined on different timescales, and for some non-quota species, there is no specific determination. I assure noble Lords that the original provisions are sufficient to ensure that the Secretary of State fulfils the function of determining UK fishing opportunities, through Clause 23(1) and (2), and that Parliament is able to scrutinise these determinations through Clause 24(2)(b).

Further, for non-quota stocks—for which we do not currently have the science to make an accurate determination—the fisheries management plans, as outlined in the joint fisheries statement, will set out policies for getting stocks to their maximum sustainable yield. For such stocks, this will necessarily include our plans for improving the scientific data and evidence that will underpin the future management of our non- quota fisheries. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that this is why he should be more positive about the fisheries management plans, bearing in mind the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, made earlier. I think this is an opportunity, particularly where the science is not the strongest, and we need to improve it—this is where we can get down to some of the pragmatic ways in which we can improve all stocks.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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I am sure that there is the potential to do that, and I look forward to the meeting; I am very pleased that the Minister is going to bring this meeting together, and maybe we will find a way forward from there. I do not in any way write them off, but when they are purely UK territorial waters, that is where I have a problem. So I endorse the Minister’s comment.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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There was, shall we say, licence on my part there because I thought it might excite intervention. Anyway, I look forward very much to the discussions. Anyone who wishes to come is welcome; I will send a wide invitation and get scientists there so that we can get to the heart of some of these matters.

On Amendment 92A, the power set out in the clause would be used to set the UK’s total allowable catch, or the absolute amount the UK is able to fish, reflecting the outcome of the negotiations with the EU and other coastal states. It could also be used to ensure our compliance with Article 61 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, which provides that catch levels should be set at sustainable levels, taking into account the best scientific evidence available. As an independent coastal state, we are committed to working closely with our partners to manage shared stocks sustainably and to share fishing opportunities on a fair and scientific basis.

It is imperative that we meet our international obligations, such as those I have described under UNCLOS, as we strive to set a gold standard for sustainable fishing around the world. I say to my noble friend that sustainability, as set out in the objectives of the Bill, is a key driver for our future plans for the industry and our negotiations. We have been clear that, in entering into negotiations and making determinations, we will be informed by independent scientific advice from ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, CEFAS, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, and its equivalents in the devolved Administrations. In conjunction with our commitments through the scientific evidence objective, this provides the assurance that determinations will be fully informed by the best available science.

The existing clause also ensures that we respect the devolution settlements. The Secretary of State will make determinations on UK fisheries opportunities only where this relates to an internationally negotiated outcome, which is a reserved competence. Removing this subsection would give the Secretary of State powers to set fishing opportunities directly for each devolved Administration, which would contravene the devolution settlements. This clause provides the necessary reassurance to the devolved Administrations that the Secretary of State would not seek to overstep on areas of devolved competence.

Our fisheries White Paper made it clear that for existing quota we will honour the allocation and distribution through the FQA units. However, we have been clear that we will explore alternative methods for allocating and distributing any additional quota negotiated both at UK level and within England.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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Again, the problem with the amendment stating “must” is that it concerns the determination of all fishing opportunities. If it says “must”, the amendment becomes a requirement that would involve stocks determined on different timescales. There are also some non-quota species where there is no specific determination. The word “may” allows the determination of the annual fishing opportunities. The problem with the amendment making it “must” is that it brings in these non-quota species. The issue I have sought to put across is that making the determination compulsory embraces all stocks—because it “must”. Obviously, there will be annual fishing opportunities for all those that involve quotas and so forth, and we will be having annual negotiations and arrangements. It is not that the Secretary of State will suddenly say, “I don’t think we’ll do this, this year”; it is that making it “must” brings in these stocks determined on a different timescale and non-quota species. That is the problem as I understand it: the amendment has that legal interpretation.

The original provisions ensure that the Secretary of State fulfils the function of determining UK fishing opportunities through Clause 23(1). Making it a “must” brings into scope stocks that would not be subject to the determination of annual fishing opportunities. That is as I understand it. If it is any different, perhaps I can discuss with the noble Baroness, but that is, in our view, the problem with the interpretation of that amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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I strongly support this amendment and, if that is the case, clearly the Government should just bring forth an amendment themselves. It should say that for quota species it should be a “must”. That is how we solve it. Clearly there must be that assessment or process every year for quota species. It is obvious and clear. The Government need to bring forward their own amendment to make sure that it includes only quota species.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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Again, the provision talks about “for a calendar year”, so these are annual fishing opportunities. “Annual” means every year; it does not mean that by saying “may”, the Secretary of State can decide not to bother one year. That is not the case—rather, it is about the fixing of annual fishing opportunities.

As I say, I have been informed that the original provisions are sufficient to ensure that the Secretary of State fulfils the functions of determining UK fishing opportunities, but if I have anything further that will assist noble Lords, I will of course communicate it. I think that the interpretation of this power to determine serves the correct purpose, but if there is a pressing need to have discussions with noble Lords on the matter outside the Committee, I am happy to do so. However, as I say, I have been advised that there is no problem with it.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness on her work on the lobster hatchery in Cornwall, which really is something quite special and has been very successful.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lady Wilcox very much for her distinguished support for fishing interests over many years.

Amendment 107 in particular would seek to reserve a proportion of English quota to be sold solely to the under-10-metre fleet. In England, the decision about whether to tender any quota is still being considered. I would say to all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate that all these matters are under active consideration. I will want to take back a large number of the points that have been made, but the criteria to be applied to any auction or tender could address concerns raised in relation to the under-10-metre fleet. Measures could be introduced to limit the lots being tendered, the amount of time they are tendered for, and the groups that they are targeted towards. As I have said, the Government will consult on the scheme and any allocation criteria. Other countries, such as Iceland and the Faroes, have explored auction systems for selling national fishing quotas. We will, therefore, also look to learn from these and other countries’ experiences. The Bill provides flexibility about how any future scheme might operate. It would already allow a scheme to be made only for the under-10s, for instance.

I turn to Amendments 108 and 109. The Government are committed to using the additional quota we secure to benefit our fishing industry and the coastal communities that they support. I know that the noble Baroness and many noble Lords will be disappointed, but the Government’s intention is to use this power to auction and tender additional quota. We recognise that this is an opportunity to support different catching sectors and will be consulting in the future, but the Government are committed to the support of coastal communities. While it is our intention that that these additional fishing opportunities be sold, and fished, the clause does not currently prevent someone from buying it and not fishing against it, as Amendment 108 seeks to provide. That said, I would caution that stopping this additional quota from being fished could reduce the benefit for our coastal communities. Encouraging those who do not intend to fish the quota to compete in auctions could also increase prices, and potentially outprice our fishers.

To address Amendment 109 specifically, I highlight that the quota tendered or auctioned through this clause would be only a proportion of total UK quota, as it relates to England only. It would therefore apply only to a proportion of fishing activity, and we must not forget that a significant proportion of our most valuable catches are actually of stocks that are not covered by quotas. Our ambition is to make the whole fleet more sustainable. We believe that this amendment, while well intentioned, is actually too narrow in focus, given that the Bill already provides a range of tools for fisheries managements to ensure that the impact of fishing on the marine environment is minimised.

Any scheme developed under Clause 27 would be developed in line with the sustainable fishing policies and practices that will be set out in the joint fisheries statement, which we have already discussed at length. However, as with everything relating to fishing, it is not as straightforward as might be imagined to determine what a sustainable fishing method is. As with all gear types, an assessment of sustainability is dependent upon how, when and where they are used. Advances in gear technology have also transformed sustainability and greatly cut unintentional bycatch. It is worth noting, for example, that, in line with a management approach the UK supported when an EU member state, Defra has already taken action to end a fishing technique that has caused concern—one that I believe the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, referred to in an earlier group of amendments—being used by English vessels: namely, electric pulse trawling. English licences will be withdrawn at the end of the transition period to end the practice in UK waters by English and any foreign vessels we allow to fish in our waters. Decisions on a future scheme regarding the sale of English fishing opportunities are yet to be determined and will depend on further exploration and consultation. It is right that we continue to develop the details of the scheme with the relevant stakeholders, so that it is flexible.

I turn to Amendment 110. While I agree with the noble Baroness’s intention to ensure that any sale of English fishing opportunities is regulated and based upon clearly defined criteria, I am advised that this amendment would undermine the existing quota allocation system. Case law has recognised that fixed quota allocation units—FQAs, the units by which quota is allocated—are a form of property right. We have committed to maintaining the current system of FQAs in relation to current quota allocations. This has to be taken into account in any new regime for the distribution of fishing opportunities. However, it is also important to highlight again that the UK’s sovereign rights over its fisheries and the public right to fish are already recognised in law. UNCLOS recognises in Articles 2 and 56 that coastal states have sovereign rights over the resources, including fisheries, in their territorial waters and EEZ. At home in our domestic courts, as had been referred to, Mr Justice Cranston noted, in the UK Association of Fish Producer Organisations Judicial Review of 2013, that the Magna Carta recognised fish stocks were a public resource and:

“Consequently there can be no property right in fish until they are caught.”


Additionally, the amendment links quota allocation and the provision of fishing licences in a manner which could inadvertently lead to confusion. While quota is indeed allocated to licence holders, these two concepts are separate issues and should be treated as such. This distinction is important as it allows, for example, quota to be exchanged between licence holders during the fishing year. Such flexibility helps fishers adapt to weather patterns, choke risks and other circumstances.

I absolutely understand the reason for the amendment, particularly given that the noble Baroness and whoever may be working with her have tabled this new clause. But the Government’s position is that there is more work to do on this. We want to consult on it; we want to get it right. All the points that have been raised, not only in the noble Baroness’s amendment but elsewhere, are on work that we wish to continue. That is why I am not in a position to confirm support for these amendments, but the work is continuing. I have found the points that have been made very helpful—

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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I just seek a couple of clarifications. With any new fishing opportunities, there will have to be an auction that people have to pay for, but with existing quota they will not. That gives a competitive commercial advantage, completely, to those who are already incumbents of the industry. I would think that the Competition and Markets Authority would be severely challenged by that. That is a real problem. If they are auctioned, do they then become permanent FQAs for those people, or is it a right for only five years? I was also very interested in the Minister’s comments that the rights over the fish stocks come from UNCLOS, which is an international agreement. That suggests to me that this is not a devolved issue. It is clearly a national issue, not a devolved one.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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Clause 27 is about English fishing opportunities as far as I recall. The other thing I should say is that I have been very clear that the Government’s intention is to use this power to auction and tender additional quota. I have also said that the Government will consult on and consider this matter, so in matters of detail, I shall certainly not pre-empt any consideration by confirming or otherwise what the noble Lord has asked. This is obviously a matter that we wish to work further on and explore. I do not propose to take any more observations, but I will say to the noble Baroness that I am very happy for her and any other noble Lords—if they would let me know—to come and have a think piece on Clause 27.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps I could just follow up on a couple of the things that the Minister stated are important. As he knows, one of the things I questioned on Monday was the equal access objective. He made rather a different point going through the objectives today than he did to me on Monday. If I recall, he said that that objective means there is equal access to fish. I think he said in his answer to me on Monday that the equal access is to waters, rather than to actual fish. If there is equal access to fish, that concerns me greatly.

I take the Minister’s point about the Government not changing their attitude to sustainability. I want to make the obvious point, and I know that he will not disagree. While I would not question for a minute this Minister’s—or maybe even this Government’s—wish to have sustainability as the most important point, we have to make sure that that is true for future Governments, who might not have the same sensitivities as this Government. That is why we spent a lot of time on Monday trying to clarify the sustainability objective. If it is fudged, as it is at the minute, that will allow future Governments to move away from those pure sustainability objectives in marine ecology without changing the legislation.

Does the Minister see these fishing objectives as a reserved or a devolved matter? I would be interested to understand that.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I might need to clarify this, but on the noble Lord’s first point, using “to fish” as a verb refers to the act of fishing. I will look at what I said on Monday and what I said today, but as far as I am concerned equal access enables UK fishing vessels to have that access across UK waters. This enables, for instance, English vessels to fish in what would be Scottish waters, and all the arrangements of the four fishing administrations.

The most important thing is that I do not mislead the noble Lord, or anyone, if there was a looseness of mine either on Monday or today. I am very clear that this equal access objective confirms the position of the four fisheries administrations regarding the abilities of UK fishing vessels in the act of fishing. I do not want to play with words; I want to get this right, because I believe the equal access objective is important for all four parts of the United Kingdom. This is something that the four fisheries administrations have come to agree.

We might have a collision point on sustainability. I think we all agree that, if we overfish our stocks, the safety at sea objectives will be academic, because there will not be any fish to fish. Given this set of objectives on bycatch, climate change, precaution and science, I do not think that this Government or a future Government will suddenly think that having sustainable fish stocks is not a desirable objective towards which we should all work. I very much hope that, by the time that there is a new Government, we will have achieved many of these objectives, in the same way we have gone up from 12% to 59% fishing of MSY. The objective is that we need sustainability for all stocks, and the precautionary objective is very important. One of the things that we must all wrestle with is that currently, we do not have adequate scientific information on all stocks and we need a better assessment. That is why the precautionary objective is in place. The aim is for the activities to be environmentally sustainable, while delivering economic and social benefits. As I said in the agricultural context, we must ensure that farmers produce food and enhance the environment, both of which are entirely compatible.

This Government have not invented the idea that sustainability involves social and economic considerations; this is a UN framework for interpreting sustainability. If we are so rigid that there is only one view, where will the coastal communities be? I have been thinking a lot about this and about how to deploy the arguments at Report, so I must not say too much. We need to think about ratcheting sustainability to one element of the prism, which I am prepared to say is the essential part. However, if the law said that we could not have arrangements whereby moving upwards from 59% involved nuances and an ability to keep coastal communities alive, in order to work to sustainable harvest for all stocks, that would make it a blunt instrument.

We are all on the same page, and I am sure about what we want. However, I am afraid that the Government are not going to suggest that we should not think about the social and economic consequences. I am clear, given the comments of noble Lords who spoke about sustainability and then spoke to the amendments about economic and social benefits, that we want the same thing. However, to put one objective beyond all others in what is a balanced package will result in something that none of us wants.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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That is a very intriguing aspect of an issue that we will wrestle with on Report, but we are all on the same page in many respects. I need to refine my arguments, and perhaps we might then meet somewhere. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and all noble Lords, for this rather elongated discussion.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I had a question about whether the objectives were effectively a reserved area, or a devolved area and the Administrations had come together and agreed this. Are they a reserved area or not?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

Again, I will probably need to take some advice, possibly legal. The management of fisheries is devolved. The great thing about what has happened—I had no part in the discussions, so I can say this—is that the fisheries administrations of the four parts of the United Kingdom have come together with these objectives. I have the privilege of taking this Bill through the House, but it is at the request of, and the work of, all four Administrations.

We all know about international agreements. This is a domestic agreement between the four fisheries administrations, working collaboratively in the interests of fish stocks and of the communities, which are very important. If there is any flavour of ambiguity in what I have said regarding the legal position, I will put this information in the letter. This is absolutely the work of the four Administrations, seeking to do the right thing for fish stocks and for the communities that harvest the fish for us.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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I thank the Minister for what I think was a very constructive reply. I could see the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, almost thinking that the Minister was going to concede one amendment—but then it was taken away. What a disappointment, but there we are. Of all the amendments, the one tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, which would put how the objectives have been met in the fisheries management plan, seems to be totally obvious and, while not a substitute for what the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, wishes to do, something that would really tie that down. The statements are too high a level to do that; it needs to be done at the level that the noble and learned Lord suggests.

I have one question for the Minister before I— probably—withdraw my amendment. We leave the common fisheries policy on 31 December this year; it will all go and we will have a clean sheet. When does he expect the first of these management plans to be in place, and what will happen in between?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I think I will write to the noble Lord on that precise issue. As I have said, there are some existing plans, as well as work that we are already undertaking. The whole purpose of this is to take those management plans even further. That is why we need to get this framework Bill through, and then we can work on the plans. I could not give the noble Lord a precise date and I am not going to make one up. Obviously a lot of work is being undertaken and we will need to work with the devolved Administrations and interested parties.

As I said in relation to the consultation following Royal Assent, there are provisions here with the affirmative statutory instruments, which will be part of the aftermath of this where we will have consideration. This is work that we need to advance very quickly. I am not in a position to give a precise date—the noble Lord would probably think it unwise if I did so—but this is work that absolutely has to be advanced because, yes, our aspirations for sustainable fisheries apply now and on 1 January and thereafter.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not press the Minister any more on that, but I think all of us, and maybe the industry itself, would have a concern if there was a blank sheet between when we leave the current regulatory regime and when these plans arrive. I will wait for him to write on that.

I look forward to meeting the Minister, along with others, to understand the management plans more. However, I say yet again that the science has to be the best, and I am glad that that is accepted in principle. We have to find a way to integrate co-operation and co-planning with our adjacent coastal states with our fisheries management plans. We just have to do that; we cannot do it any other way. The debate that we have had has still not convinced me how that will happen in a practical way, and that is very much what I will be looking to the Minister to explain to me and others when we meet before Report. At the moment, though, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Wednesday 4th March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard - continued) Page View all Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-II(a) Amendments for Committee, supplementary to the second marshalled list - (3 Mar 2020)
Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I very much welcome these amendments and support them. I have put my name to Amendment 62, which is about my genuine concern—I will not go over it again at this time of the evening—that somehow social and economic elements will be used to trump a sustainability issue, even if it is not the will of the present Government or of the Minister. It just makes me uncomfortable, and I would much prefer this whole area to be tighter, as with the other amendments put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, which she has explained. It is coming back to this area again of ensuring that we do not prejudice the long term by making life easier politically in the short term.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness and indeed the noble Lord for the points they have made. This gives me the opportunity to set out the reasoning behind the ability of fisheries policy authorities to diverge from policies in the joint fisheries statement and from policies in the fisheries management plan, in the narrow circumstances where relevant considerations apply, and to take a different approach for stocks for which it would not be appropriate to gather data to calculate their MSY.

Starting with Amendments 59 and 63, it is clear that fisheries management plans will need to evolve over time to retain their efficacy and feasibility. While the list presented in the clause in question covers some of the major changes that we could predict might take place, other circumstances may bring to light fundamental factors to consider in updating fisheries management plans. This legislation aims to be future-proof and flexible enough to allow dynamic, evidence-based policy-making.

The premise behind this amendment is that the fisheries administrations could use this clause to somehow water down plans. However, it would also hinder their ability to strengthen plans in the light of changing circumstances. It would limit those circumstances under which fisheries administrations might consider amending, revoking or developing new fisheries management plans, or to set out a plan described in a different way from that initially proposed in a joint fisheries statement, to one or more of four exclusive reasons that we believe will severely limit their ability to react to new or emerging issues. Furthermore, preventing fisheries administrations making use of new economic, social or environmental evidence as a trigger to amend or replace fisheries management plans, and by inference informing the development of new fisheries plans, is contrary to the core principle of evidence-based policy-making.

The amendment proposed by the noble Baroness puts the threshold for using evidence at that relating only to “catastrophic events”, which would seem extremely high and to relate, one hopes, to very rare occasions. I have reflected on this and feel that it would mean that fisheries administrations would have to wait to react to events, rather than be proactive and use all new evidence potentially to head off a catastrophic event. I am concerned that the amendment creates an unacceptable risk that our fisheries administrations would be unhelpfully bound by what was foreseen as necessary at the point at which the joint fisheries statement was published, rather than having the flexibility to react to changing circumstances or moving stocks that could result in environmental, economic or social harm that was not yet catastrophic.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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So that I am not anything other than very clear with the noble Baroness, I shall read from the Bill: in Clause 48, on interpretation, an

“‘international obligation of the United Kingdom’ includes any obligation that arises or may arise under an international agreement or arrangement to which the United Kingdom is a party”.

That is the definition.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does that include the 5,000 agreements that the Minister talked about in order to negate one of our earlier amendments?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

I think I am consistent, in that there are many treaties that do not relate to fisheries, and I am consistent in saying that this is in relation to our international fisheries obligations. With the other amendment that we discussed, the drafting could have involved us in all the 14,000 treaties—I think it was 14,000—whereas here I believe it is distinctly involved in and engaged with the arrangements for fisheries within our international obligations.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for his Amendment 75, which requires annual reports on the state of

“stocks for which there are fisheries management plans.”

Existing annual publications provide information on the state of our fish stocks. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee publishes the UK biodiversity indicators annually on behalf of Defra and the devolved Administrations. These indicators include two covering sustainable fisheries: one shows the percentage of quota stocks harvested sustainably, and the other the percentage of quota stocks whose biomass is at such a level to maintain full reproductive capacity. These indicators are national statistics and part of the UK’s commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity to report on our progress towards its goals and targets—the Aichi targets. Our indicators on sustainable fisheries show data back to 1990.

The Government published their 25-year environment plan in 2018, in which they committed to develop a new set of indicators to report on the state of our natural assets, and to publish an annual report on their progress in meeting the goals and targets set out in the plan. The first annual report, published in May 2019, had an indicator on sustainable fisheries alongside a narrative setting out how we are progressing towards our broader goal for sustainable fisheries. The indicator and narrative will be updated in the 2020 report due in the spring. The evolution of the Fisheries Bill and the introduction of our provisions for fisheries management plans means we will need to reflect and consult more widely with stakeholders as it may be more appropriate for each plan to contain its own reporting framework rather than for us to do a single annual report.

There are also some devolution implications arising from the amendment which cause concern. It would commit the Secretary of State to report annually on any stocks in fisheries management plans published by the devolved Administrations covering their waters only. The devolved Administrations would determine how and when they report on the state of stocks covered by their fisheries management plans. In addition, we have enhanced the transparency framework set out in the Bill by committing to provide triennial reviews of the joint fisheries statement and the implementation of fisheries management plans. There are stocks for which we do not currently have sufficient data to assess their status, and we have made provision in the Bill to collect further evidence to determine sustainable levels. The proposed three-year reporting cycle for fisheries management plans will set out our progress for these data-poor stocks.

I am very happy to have further discussions with the noble Lord if he thinks there are any loose ends, but with the existing annual publications—he is probably aware of them already—and the requirements in the Bill, we are asking the question that we all want to know the answer to, which is: are we making progress and is this working? With what we have already and what is planned in the Bill, his aspirations are covered. On that basis, I hope he will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Whenever the Minister gives such a comprehensive answer, I get more worried. This was an amendment where I was expecting an answer such as, “Lord Teverson, on this, don’t worry. We’re just going to carry on. You will know each year how many of these stocks are at MSY and how many aren’t.” That is the core of what I was trying to get to. I am even more concerned because devolution means that we might not all be on the same page in reporting our fish stocks as a nation, so I ask the question: at the end of 2021, when we are outside the common fisheries policy, will Defra be able to give us or anybody else who wants to know the percentage of stocks that are meeting MSY, just as it does now through the common fisheries policy? Will we know that?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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Let me repeat what I said. The existing annual publications include one showing the percentage of quota stocks harvested sustainably and another showing the percentage of quota stocks whose biomass is at such a level as to maintain full reproductive capacity. I will be happy to look at those myself, but I am afraid that I do not have them with me. However, not only does the Bill refer to reporting; annual publications already exist.

The noble Lord is worried when I give a comprehensive answer but if I have read this correctly, there is an existing annual publication. Perhaps the noble Lord has got me worried now, but I have no doubt about this. This is published as a part of our indicators on behalf of Defra and the devolved Administrations. I understand the point about the references to the devolved Administrations in the Bill. The task for Defra Ministers, which is an interesting one, is to work very productively with the devolved Administrations, which we are. There is no suggestion that matters which are devolved are no longer going to be devolved; they are absolutely part of the devolved settlement. Whether or not that proves to be an inconvenience for some, that is the settlement which is enshrined, and we will continue to work extremely collaboratively.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Monday 2nd March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I will conclude on this, otherwise the “Ah, buts” will lose the force of the sustainability point of this debate. It is clear, I believe—as I always have—that the House and your Lordships need to make a compelling case, which a government Minister will always want to listen to. If a compelling case is made, as I have said previously, my answer will be, “Gosh, I wish we’d thought of that.” I emphasise that the Bill has been considered over a very long time. We have one go at this Bill and there have been a lot of representations. It has gone through a mincer in a way that most other Bills do not. Given our very close connections and our responsibilities, and given that fishing is devolved, we have worked collaboratively and positively with the devolved Administrations. I emphasise to the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, that I do not use that as an excuse. It is a statement of fact that we are legislating on behalf of all parts of the kingdom. That is really what I wish to say at this point.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for probably one of the most important debates during this Committee and for all the points made. They were made pretty much in the same direction, even if they did not totally agree on the detail.

I was very grateful for the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Grocott—I thought it was fantastic. The sad thing to someone like me is that, apart from relative stability and technical regulations, which are not dealt with in the Bill, we could have done everything else over the last 40 years, but we did not because we just went along and did what was easiest. We did not need to let our quotas go to foreign owners, we could have changed the balance between the large and small fleets completely, and we could have put far more European money into our coastal communities when they did not have enough quotas. We could have done all those things, but we did not. However, the noble Lord was absolutely right: we have here an opportunity to really open our minds. The Minister says, “We’ve gone through all of this before, it’s been looked at before and we’ve talked to all the other sides”, but we have had a break, we are now out of the European Union, we have opened our minds and we have had some really good suggestions on the Bill. We should not be railroaded by past negotiations. Clearly, devolution is key—we do not want to change that settlement in any way—but that cannot prevent our making some changes.

One fundamental thing, on which I disagree completely with the Minister, is that referring to “balance” between socioeconomic issues and sustainability was exactly the argument that Ministers used on the common fisheries policy from the 1980s to about five years ago, when the whole regime changed. Because of that so-called balance, stocks disappeared from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and were depleted from western waters. If we do not decide to make sustainability a prime objective, that is what we will end up with. The history shows that the politics takes over from the science.

I was very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Randall, mentioned Newfoundland. I went out to Newfoundland in 1996 at the height of the conflict with the Portuguese and the Spanish. I went out on an aeroplane with the Canadian fisheries department to look at the line of big Atlantic fishing vessels fishing right along the EEZ line. I saw the communities of St John’s in Newfoundland that were unable to fish their own waters because there was nothing left. That was due to the short-term socioeconomic objective taking the place of the sustainability objective. That is exactly what you get and exactly what we must not have in this country, whether in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England. We cannot afford that.

If I was chief executive of a company and somebody gave me eight different objectives and did not rank them, the first thing I would do is ask the chairman to fire the non-executive directors, because it is absolutely impossible to have eight equal objectives in any subject. That is for running a company; if you are running the marine environment of a nation, surely it is far more important.

To come back to the point from the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, we absolutely need a socioeconomic objective. The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, is absolutely right as well—we will come to the financing part of the Bill. There are amendments to that part to say that we will need to intervene when there is a socioeconomic problem and that we should not be afraid to do so. We should protect those communities in that way. We should not pretend that we are protecting them by letting people go out for fish stocks that are not there and are not sustainable.

I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. She made her argument very strongly. The same goes for the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, on the points he made. Although my amendments may not be perfect, I have tried to stick within the Government’s framework by changing around some of the words but using the Government’s own settlement with the devolved authorities. I am absolutely sure that we will come back to this on Report, but at this point I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
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My Lords, I should have made another declaration: I am co-chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership. Obviously, being surrounded by sea apart from the Tamar—which is an even more important boundary with our brothers in Devon—Cornwall has a marine interest.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, for her amendments. Together, they would require policies made to achieve the fisheries objectives to be consistent with the objectives and policies in relevant marine plans.

I want to take this opportunity to make it clear that the UK Government recognise the importance of marine plans, which enable the increasing and, at times, competing demands for use of the marine area to be balanced and managed in an integrated way—a way that protects the marine environment while supporting sustainable development. Using our marine resources effectively and sustainably has the potential to provide significant benefits for the UK economy and for coastal communities. The economic contribution of marine-related industries to the UK’s GDP in 2015 was estimated at £27 billion, with scope for further growth.

In England, the East Inshore and East Offshore Marine Plans were published in April 2014 and the South Inshore and South Offshore Marine Plan was published in July 2018. The remaining marine plans for England are out for consultation by the Marine Management Organisation and will be in place by 31 March 2021, delivering the Government’s commitment in the 25-year environment plan.

Marine plans support economic growth in a way that benefits society while respecting the needs of local communities and protecting the marine environment. That is why I understand the importance of the points that the noble Baroness has raised. We believe that what her amendment requires is already provided for. As was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, Section 58 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 requires public authorities to have regard to

“the appropriate marine policy documents”—

which could be a marine policy statement or a marine plan—when taking decisions affecting the marine environment. The amendments would therefore duplicate this requirement. I am advised that the requirement is already sufficient to meet what I know are the noble Baroness’s positive intentions.

With that explanation and the assurance that I have been advised that Section 58 covers this point and that the amendment would merely duplicate what is already a legal requirement, I hope that she will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Monday 2nd March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I promise the Minister that I will not go through a list of even more organisations that should be consulted but Natural England is a key government and Defra body for looking at everything, including take-free zones and so on. Is it involved at all or is that done by the Secretary of State?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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All the organisations that I have referred to are organisations rather than statutory bodies. Clearly, bodies such as Natural England have statutory functions and interests, and obviously are part of the work. The Environment Agency, Natural England and other such bodies would all have an interest in marine areas and so on. As to the part they will play in the expert advisory group—I will try not to mislead your Lordships—clearly all such statutory organisations and bodies would have a locus in this.

As to the initiatives from the industry itself that the UK Government are supporting to manage fisheries, these include, for example, the work of the Scallop Industry Consultation Group and the newly created shellfish industry group. We have also held a call for evidence on how we allocate additional English quota.

In addition—the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, referred to this and we shall have discussions about it—the Bill includes statutory provisions requiring consultation and parliamentary scrutiny of proposals in the joint fisheries statement, any Secretary of State fisheries statement and fisheries management plans. The provision for consultation in these three areas—particularly when we get down to the fisheries management plans, which are about each and every stock—shows the level of ability and the importance of consultation. Its purpose is to get these matters right and to have sustainable fishing.

Given the complexities of fisheries management, the different interests and the different levels at which advice and engagement need to take place—be it at national, administration or local level—a one-size-fits-all body is unlikely to work. Consultation and collaboration will need to flex and adapt as we improve our fisheries management.

In addition, I am advised that, as drafted, the amendment would present some challenges given the devolution settlements. Officials in the UK Government have worked very closely with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations to develop and draft this new set of fisheries objectives. We appreciate the level of engagement that the devolved Administrations have shown in this work. The objectives are truly shared ambitions for our future fisheries management. I am pleased to report that the devolved Administrations already collaborate and consult widely in developing their own future fisheries management policies.

As I say, we will come to discussions on consultation at a later stage but I hope it has been helpful to my noble friend that I have set out in slightly more detail than I might have intended the organisations that are part of the expert advisory group. As we all know, we need to base what we do on scientific advice—and we are seeking the best scientific advice we can.

With those extra words, I hope my noble friend will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard - continued) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard - continued): House of Lords
Monday 2nd March 2020

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

I will avail myself of receiving some information and let everyone in this debate know. Clearly, it is a devolved matter and therefore all three devolved Administrations and the UK Government will make those considerations. That is why I mentioned in particular the English quota management rules. These are matters of responsibility for the devolved Administrations and ourselves in terms of quota. On that basis, I hope the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, for his question because even if we use the traditional ICES areas, those do not reflect the boundaries between the devolved nations. It is an interesting question.

I thank the Minister for his explanation. I feel reassured by that. If it does not relate to quotas and refers only to vessels steaming around in circles doing nothing at all, who can complain? However, it does not seem to be much of an objective if that is the case. On that basis, I withdraw my amendment.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I repeat what I said: work is already being undertaken on this by the Government and the devolved Administrations. It is work in progress, but that is the right route, particularly as these are devolved matters and that is important. The Government want to find ways: although we must and do respect the devolution settlement, there are many respects where we have been seeking to work together and why we are legislating on behalf of all four parts of the United Kingdom on this matter. It is the case that we are acting in concert with the devolved Administrations. We are very mindful that many of these areas are devolved, but we think that in the interests of simplicity and straightforwardness there are many areas where we would like to have a single focus, as it were.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Perhaps I can be helpful to the Minister, in that the whole area of foreign ownership of British-flagged vessels is an English issue, and I am sure that we can solve it in that way and help the Minister get this into the Bill. It is an English, not a Scottish, problem. That is one thing we can do. The other thing is that, on the under-10 fleet redistribution of quota, of course the big promise of the Government is that the pie is going to increase anyway, so there will be plenty for the under-10 fleet. If the Government’s promises, in terms of taking back control and getting rid of relative stability, is what we manage to achieve, then that should not be a problem.

What I particularly want to do at this stage is to go through a thought experiment with the Minister. Taking the point that it is the Government’s objective, quite rightly, post Brexit to have a much larger pie—because the fish stocks are within our EEZ and we will have this whole idea of zonal attachment—we will have much larger fishing opportunities for the fleet as a whole. So, with that bigger pie, are we going to allow the foreign-owned British companies with British-flagged vessels to take even more quota than they have now, or have the Government got a cunning plan to make sure that this expanded quota stays and resides more with real British fishing fleets? I would be very interested to hear the Government’s answer.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

For tonight, I will say that these are matters under active consideration. We take the point that there is scope for additional quota to benefit coastal communities. I am not in a position to give precise details because this is under active consideration, but the noble Lord has absolutely hit on the point that this is about additional opportunities. The Government are working on and considering how best we fulfil that in a way which benefits coastal communities. That, as with a number of other aspects, is work in hand.

Fishery Protection Squadron

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Wednesday 12th February 2020

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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As I said in my first reply, co-ordination and collaboration with all the devolved Administrations—indeed, the four fisheries administrations —is absolutely key. Marine Scotland is represented on JMOC. In addition to the three vessels referred to by the noble Earl, it has two aeroplanes for aerial surveillance. The point is that there is collaboration with all four fisheries administrations to ensure that all UK waters are better protected.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, does the Minister agree that fishing vessels are very sophisticated nowadays? They know when a large, grey naval vessel is about to go over the horizon, so surely, exactly as the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, we must put more investment into electronic surveillance—aerial surveillance and satellite surveillance. We must also ensure that all vessels fishing in UK waters are on an equal footing, and that all comply.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

This issue goes back to the very essence of sustainability and the reason why we need to do this. Heightened surveillance is in the long-term interests of the fishing fleets—for all vessels, whether they are foreign and subject to negotiation, or our own. It is about ensuring that sustainable stocks are in our waters and are fished properly. That is why, as I outlined, we have the electronic reporting and data system, the vessel monitoring system and even more innovative technologies to complement what we already have. This issue is really important.

Trade Policy: Environmental Aspects

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Thursday 23rd January 2020

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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We will obviously want to retain all our environmental standards—our food safety and other standards—both in our own production and in that coming via imports, because we want to be one of the world-leading countries with a successful green economy. Clearly, we will not compromise on those standards in our trade negotiations.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Minister will be very aware of biosecurity—I welcome his work in this area—the absence of which could be one of the greatest threats to our environment and our future biodiversity. One area of concern is ballast water for ships on international trade. In 2017, the International Maritime Organization greatly tightened up the regulations governing ballast water, yet I understand that the Department for Transport has not put any resource into implementing that decision. Will the Minister have a word with his DfT colleagues and make sure that this happens?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord hits on an important part of what we need to do. We are working on this; I have already had discussions with the Department for Transport, and I will continue to do so. We are very clear about the importance of this issue. One of the chief areas I am concerned about is invasive species, which is one of the key five environmental problems. What the noble Lord has said is extremely helpful.

Office for Environmental Protection

Debate between Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Lord Teverson
Monday 20th January 2020

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the Office for Environmental Protection will become (1) operational, and (2) take on its full statutory powers and responsibilities.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, we plan for the OEP to be operational from 1 January 2021, at which point it will begin to perform its full statutory powers and responsibilities. It will therefore be operational from the day that the UK leaves the oversight of the EU institutions, at the end of the implementation period. The OEP will be ready to receive complaints from day one.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the Minister, and welcome that announcement and that reassurance. The Minister will also be aware that Defra, where this body probably will lie, keeps very close to its executive agencies and its non-departmental public bodies. In fact, it calls them “the Defra family.” How will he ensure that, if it is part of that family, the office will remain entirely independent and fearless in carrying out its statutory duties?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

The noble Lord is right: independence is key. The environment Bill will state that the OEP will be operational independent of Defra. Ministers will not be able to set its programme of activity or influence its decision-making. It will be accountable to Parliament through a sponsoring Minister. We intend the chair to be subject to a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing. Ministerial appointments will be regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. It is important that the OEP is independent. It will be.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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Yes, I asked rather the same question of officials, if I may say so. The OEP must lay its annual statement of accounts before Parliament, including an assessment of whether it has been provided with sufficient funds to carry out its functions. Clearly, we want to get the OEP set up and we need to establish a board and a chair before it becomes operational. We will have to see. As I say, I used the figure of 60 to 120 people. It may be 100. We are not setting a distinct figure. What we want is for the job to be done properly.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, it is well known to the Minister that perhaps one of the greatest reasons for the Government taking notice of the Commission and its powers and beyond is that the Commission is able to fine Governments who do not comply as an ultimate sanction. Will the OEP have that power over the United Kingdom Government?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - -

My Lords, the distinction is that under the EU arrangements the Commission may bring legal proceedings against a member state Government only. Under our domestic legal arrangements, we believe that fines would simply move money around the domestic public finance system. Indeed, fines may also shift resources away from their intended use in implementing measures to protect the environment. The key point is that if a public authority failed to comply with a court order, the OEP would be able to bring contempt of court proceedings, which could lead in turn to fines being imposed.