Debates between Lord Krebs and Baroness McIntosh of Pickering during the 2019 Parliament

Fri 4th Feb 2022
Wed 13th Oct 2021
Environment Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading & 3rd reading
Wed 24th Jun 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

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

Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords & Report stage

Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Baroness Hayman of Ullock (Lab)
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Just to come back on that, proposed new subsection (4) in my amendment says:

“The Secretary of State may, by regulations, amend the dates listed in subsection (2)”—


the dates I read out—

“if the requirement under subsection (3)”,

which is the evidence condition the noble Lord is talking about,

“is met before the dates”.

There is flexibility in the amendment to bring those dates forward if that scientific evidence is there.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con)
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My Lords, I will intervene briefly on a point of information. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, has helped his cause, although he is very knowledgeable in this area and I pay tribute to him in that regard, in mentioning that a particular academic is not deemed to be at the centre of gravity on these issues. Who are we to judge? This is a fast-moving and complicated field. We are leaving what has been a highly regulated area, where our farm products have moved very freely between here and the European Union; if we go down this path of very light regulation in the Bill, how do we know that the EU will accept our food products? I shall listen very carefully to my noble friend’s response, in particular to the amendments from the Opposition Front Bench.

I feel that there is an uneasiness and lack of understanding among the public about this, which I share. I am in awe of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh; it is my alma mater, although I studied law rather than science or veterinary science. I realise that cloning is different, but the very fact that we do not seem to be going down that path, which was first brought up with Dolly the sheep, raises issues. I am very uneasy about moving to light-touch regulation when the science is not at one on this issue.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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If I could just interrupt the noble Baroness, I think it is wrong to bring up Dolly the sheep in this conversation, because this has nothing to do with cloning. It is a completely different technology.

While I am on my feet, I will respond to her point about how we know where the centre of gravity of scientific opinion is, who is to judge it and whether it will change. I appreciate her kind words about me; I am a scientist but I am no expert in genetics or gene editing. However, I know from my general experience of a lifetime as a scientific researcher that, when there is a centre of gravity of opinion, there are always outliers. Sometimes those outliers turn out to be right and there are transformations, but I have seen no evidence at this stage that the outliers are right and the centre of gravity is about to shift. That is all I want to say.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con)
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I have nearly finished my remarks. I have some sympathy with the amendments from the Front Bench opposite and would like to hear a very good reason why my noble friend may be minded not to support them.

Health and Care Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, on the one hand, I am strongly in favour of the government proposals in Schedule 17 to bring in further curbs on the promotion and advertising of junk food by introducing a 9 pm watershed and a ban on paid-for advertising online. I also support the amendments in the names of my noble friends Lady Boycott and Lady Finlay of Llandaff. On the other hand, I strongly oppose a raft of amendments in this grouping that we have heard a lot about in the last half an hour or so that seek to dilute or delay the measures in various ways. I do not have time to go through each one in detail, but if the Government were to accept any of them, it would be children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who would suffer the consequences.

Before I move on, I want to try to find an area of common ground with the noble Lords, Lord Vaizey, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Moylan. I agree with the implication of what they have said that this is not a single-fix magic bullet. Promotion and advertising of food makes a contribution to the obesity crisis, but there are many other factors, whether education, school meals or in-store promotions, which the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, just referred to. I do not think anybody would claim that this is going to solve the crisis, but the question is: would it make any difference at all? We have heard various arguments that it would not, but I want to refer back to the evidence.

I first came across this nearly 20 years ago when I was chairman of the Food Standards Agency. We commissioned an independent review by Professor Gerard Hastings of the University of Strathclyde on the impact of the promotion and advertising of food on children’s diets. It showed incontrovertibly, with the range of evidence available, which was partly observational and partly experimental, that, yes, it does affect children’s diets. It affects not just brand loyalty but preferences for categories of food—chocolate versus apples, for example. In a way, that is blindingly obvious because, if it had no effect, why on earth would the food industry spend so much money doing it? We do not really need to have research to show it, but nevertheless the research is absolutely clear cut. Other reviews since then have supported the Hastings findings.

The second point I want to make is about the various objections that come from the food and advertising industries that this will have a negative impact on revenues and broadcasting. If noble Lords want to look at the analysis on this, I suggest they read pages 39 to 42 of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy Part One, where he thoroughly debunks the arguments we have heard. I will read a quote from the report, from John Hegarty, founder of the leading brand agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty—I gather it created the Audi slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik” and is very well known. He said:

“Advertising junk food … is no longer a decent thing to do. Instead of fighting the new 9pm watershed rule, the advertising industry should be using its power to help fight the health crisis. We all have our part to play in encouraging food companies to invest in healthier meals, and encouraging the public to buy them.


No one is against profit – but profiting from illness and misery is not a sustainable business model.”


That is from the advertising industry itself.

I have talked about evidence and the impact on industry. My third point is really about inequality. Two days ago, we had the levelling-up White Paper, which contains a number of missions. One of the missions is to reduce health inequalities by 2030, and as we know, they are absolutely staggering. According to the King’s Fund’s latest analysis, males from the least deprived areas in the United Kingdom have a healthy life expectancy of 71 years; from the most deprived areas, they have a healthy life expectancy of 52 years. The White Paper states:

“we will act now to deal with one of the biggest contributors to ill health: poor diet and obesity.”

Whatever one thinks the average effect of these measures might be across the country, we must bear in mind that those effects will not be borne equally by different parts of society. The people who will bear the brunt if we do not implement these measures will be the poorest and most disadvantaged children in the country.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, who, a week ago last Monday, organised a moving and interesting session with an organisation called Bite Back 2030. I hope he will not mind me quoting a little from that session. The facts and figures are absolutely mind-boggling. The raw statistics are that, in the UK, 15 billion junk food adverts are pumped out every year—in other words, 500 adverts per second—targeted mainly at young people. That is one of those numbers that is so outlandish that it is hard to grasp. That is why I found that the personal accounts of the young people and teenagers we heard from told a richer story. I will give your Lordships an example.

Dev Sharma, who I think is a 16 year-old boy, said:

“junk food advertising is part of my life”.

It is on bus tickets, Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, et cetera. Particularly chilling for me was the fact that Domino’s Pizza sends him an advert every day at 4 pm, just as he is leaving school and is really hungry, like any teenage boy. That is when he is at his most vulnerable, and he is being persuaded to buy calorie dense junk food then. Another witness, Becky Odoi, talked about “subliminal conditioning” of young people, and Yumna Hussen said that food companies are preying on young people when they are most vulnerable.

These are not my ideas; they are the ideas of the young people on the receiving end. I could go on at greater length, but I think I have made my point. I strongly disagree with the amendments that would dilute these measures, and I strongly support the measures. I regret that the Government’s own amendments introduce the possibility of delaying implementing the measures, and I ask the Minister to confirm that the Government do not intend such a delay. They will not be the total solution, but they will play a significant part in tackling the obesity crisis in this country, which, in the longer run, is a far bigger health crisis than Covid. We must not get distracted by the short term from looking at the long term.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con)
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My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, and pay tribute to the work he has done in this area. I shall speak to Amendment 257C, but I shall first make just one general comment on something to which he alluded, and which follows from the earlier remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott. We are working in a vacuum at the moment, and it would be extremely helpful if the Government could say when they will publish their food strategy, drawing on the excellent work done by Henry Dimbleby, who is the main adviser to the Government on this.

I support and have appended my name to Amendment 257C in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead. He is unable to be here today, which he regrets greatly. The offending part of the Bill in this regard is on page 241, in proposed new Section 368Z18 on the guidance the Government intend to draw up from time to time. Subsection (2) states:

“The appropriate regulatory authority must consult the Secretary of State before drawing up or revising the guidance.”


Subsection (3) states:

“The appropriate regulatory authority must publish the guidance and any revised guidance in such manner as they consider appropriate for bringing it to the attention of the persons who, in their opinion, are likely to be affected by it.”


I draw the Committee’s attention to the Constitution Committee’s report on the Bill, and the following statement on Clause 144:

“This is a Henry VIII clause, enabling the Secretary of State to modify an Act of Parliament, an Act of the Scottish Parliament, a Measure or an Act of the Senedd Cymru, or Northern Ireland legislation. The Secretary of State is required to consult those he or she considers appropriate before making regulations via the affirmative resolution procedure.”


The Constitution Committee concludes:

“The House should consider amending Schedule 17 to require either the consultation of the relevant devolved administration or the consent of the relevant devolved legislature if the Secretary of State were to use this power to enact regulations modifying devolved legislation.”


I speak as a non-practising member of the Faculty of Advocates and must say that it is a source of concern to all of us who have an interest north of the border, west of the border in Wales or in Northern Ireland that, sadly, the Government are developing a history of not consulting the devolved Administrations where appropriate.

Regarding Amendment 257C, which is, in my view, a probing amendment, I put it to the Minister that the clause gives the Secretary of State the power to alter the legislation of devolved Administrations by regulations, as set out in the guidance to which I referred. The Committee will be aware that the Sewell convention does not apply to the exercise of delegated powers, so there is no obligation on the Government to seek consent. In its very helpful report on the Bill, the Constitution Committee suggests that, given the nature and extent of this power, consent should nevertheless be sought. There is nothing in the Bill to respect the spirit of the convention, not even a duty to consult. How do the Government square that with the respect they should give to the devolved Administrations, especially in view of my right honourable friend Minister Gove’s initiative on intergovernmental relations and the levelling-up agenda, to which the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, referred and which I, for one, support?

I conclude by asking my noble friend what precisely the Government intend to do, or what action they would be willing to take, to address this issue when the power in the guidance is being exercised.

Environment Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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I thank the Minister and the Defra officials, who have engaged with me and many other noble Lords very constructively during the passage of this Bill through your Lordships’ House.

I echo the point just made by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb: the amendments that have been passed in this House have significantly improved the quality of the Bill. An important point to note is that the amendments had almost universal support from all groups in your Lordships’ House. They were not party-political points; they were points made by those of us who believe passionately in the protection of the environment, now and in the future, to leave a better environment for our children and grandchildren than we have at the moment.

I hope, therefore, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, has said, that the Minister will do his very best with his colleagues to ensure that the majority, if not all, of the amendments survive their consideration in the Commons and that we do not have to start the arguments all over again at ping-pong in a couple of weeks’ time.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (Con)
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My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on what was, I think, his first Bill in this House, and my noble friend Lady Bloomfield, as well as the Bill team, who went the extra mile. I particularly pay tribute to my noble friend for the amendments that he brought forward, which is always quite an achievement for a Minister in this place.

I would like to press him a little bit further on reaching a balance, particularly in catchment management and the prevention of combined sewer overflow, an issue to which I am sure we will be returning. We have already seen substantial floods in this country and elsewhere, no doubt due to climate change, and I welcome the provisions of this Bill that will undoubtedly help to reduce that in the future.

I support my noble friend the Duke of Montrose in his comments. I will raise these issues further in the context of the debate on the common frameworks agreement later today.

I want to take the opportunity to congratulate my noble friend the Minister on bringing us to this stage, and to wish the amendments that we have carried a safe passage back to us when the Bill returns to this House from next door.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Krebs and Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Report stage & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 24th June 2020

(3 years, 12 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 View all Fisheries Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-R-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Report - (22 Jun 2020)
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs [V]
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My Lords, it is getting late, so I will try to be as brief as possible. I start by thanking the Minister and his officials for extensive discussion of this matter and my Oxford University colleague Professor EJ Milner-Gulland for her advice and help.

In earlier stages of this Bill I spoke against the use of MSY as a target in UK fisheries policy. I cited leading fisheries scientists from the UK and US, who described it as outmoded and dangerous. I also referred to the fact that leading jurisdictions such as Australia and the USA no longer use MSY, because they have recognised its limitations. Sadly, I have lost that battle. I now seek to ensure that the definition of MSY in the Bill minimises its potential for harm.

Just to recap briefly: the concept of MSY dates back to the 1950s. Fisheries scientists wanted to work out in theory how many fish one could catch without driving the stock to extinction. The answer can be summarised very simply: when the harvest exactly matches the recruitment of new harvestable fish, the population is in balance and the harvest is sustainable. Harvest a bit over this limit, and the fish population begins to decline to extinction; harvest below, and fishing opportunities are missed.

The trouble with this neat theoretical idea is that in practice you often do not have enough accurate information to calculate the rate of recruitment, nor do you usually know the precise harvest. That is why some fisheries harvested at MSY have in the past collapsed. These problems are compounded when dealing with mixed fisheries, where setting MSY for one species may incidentally cause another to be overfished. Furthermore, as the environment changes—for instance, as a result of climate change—the recruitment rate and other variables will change, so the MSY will no longer be appropriate. That is why the wording in the Bill needs to be changed.

Clause 48 defines MSY as

“the highest theoretical equilibrium yield that can be continuously taken on average … under existing environmental conditions without … affecting the reproduction process”.

The problems with this definition are as follows. First, it refers to a theoretical calculation rather than relying on actual data from the sea. Secondly, it refers to the recruitment process, which is only one factor that can affect the viability of fish stocks. Other factors, such as environmental change, can also be important. Thirdly, it is not appropriate for mixed fisheries.

My proposed change is very simple: remove the word “theoretical”, so that the calculation is based on real data, and replace “reproduction process” with “viability of the stock”, which allows for both environmental change and mixed fisheries.

I was pleased to hear the Minister say this afternoon that ICES is the body whose advice the Government respect and use. Here is what ICES says in its advice on the management of the exploitation of living marine resources:

“ICES considers ecosystem-based management … as the primary way of managing human activities affecting marine ecosystems with ecosystem-based fisheries management … specifically addressing the fishing sector.”


It goes on to say that MSY

“is a broad conceptual objective … The MSY concept can be applied to an entire ecosystem, a fish community, or a single stock. … ICES interpretation of MSY is maximizing the average long-term yield from a given stock while maintaining productive fish stocks within healthy marine ecosystems.”

My question to the Minister and his officials when I met with them was: why not simply use the ICES definition in the Bill? Remarkably, one of the officials said that, although he had helped to draft the ICES definition, the definition of MSY in the Bill could not be changed because it was the definition used in the common fisheries policy. I thought the point of Brexit was that we would determine our own way of doing things, but apparently not in this case; this has actually been a recurrent theme in debates on the Bill.

I fear that the Minister will not agree to change the wording in the Bill, even though I strongly believe that my wording is an improvement on what is currently there. If the Minister is not willing to change the wording, it would at least be encouraging if he were to reassure the House that the management of fisheries will be based on real data and that it will include broader ecosystem considerations such as environmental change. I beg to move.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering [V]
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, for bringing forward these two amendments. I had the opportunity, just out of personal interest, to meet the scientists at ICES in their Copenhagen offices on two separate occasions. I was very amused to learn that they have annual visits from the Scottish fishermen, who try to massage some of the research figures; I am delighted to say that the ICES scientists have managed to bat these away—they are leading independent scientists in this field.

The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, has done the House a great service this evening by identifying why MSY is possibly outdated and no longer fit for purpose and pointing to the basis on which ICES relies, which is an ecosystem-based management. Recognising that MSY might be moving forward and given the fact that climate change is changing the nature of fisheries—the waters are warming in certain parts and the fish are moving to cooler waters—I support the sentiments behind these two amendments and indeed have lent my name to them. As the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, has pointed out, ICES is the leading marine scientific base of research. These amendments give my noble friend the Minister an opportunity once again to confirm that we will continue to take its research going forward, at the very least—he could not commit to five or 10 years —for the next year or two. I do lend my support to these two little amendments.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Debate between Lord Krebs and Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Monday 22nd June 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 View all Fisheries Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-R-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Report - (22 Jun 2020)
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
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My Lords, we spent a great deal of time discussing sustainability during earlier stages of the Bill so I do not wish to repeat the arguments at length. However, because it has been well over three months since we last discussed this issue, I will recap briefly.

This amendment supports the Government’s own aim. At Second Reading, the Minister told us that

“this Bill creates a strong and legally binding framework to deliver this Government’s ambition to leave the natural environment in a better state than we inherited it.”—[Official Report, 11/2/20; col. 2167.]

He also said that sustainability is at the heart of the Bill. Sure enough, the first fisheries objective in Clause 1(1) is the sustainability objective. Unfortunately, however, as drafted, the Bill does not guarantee the protection of fish stocks and the wider marine environment. To be absolutely sure that the Bill does what it claims on the tin, let us get the commitment to protecting the natural environment written into it. That is the purpose of this amendment.

What is the problem? History shows that whenever there is a trade-off between short-term economic and employment considerations and longer-term environmental sustainability, short-term factors nearly always win. This is what has led to overfishing and long-term damage to the marine environment in many of the world’s fisheries, including those covered by the common fisheries policy. That is the key point. The Bill as drafted allows for the possibility of short-term economic and social factors overruling environmental sustainability in making trade-offs.

Clause 1(2) defines the sustainability objective as having three elements: environmental, social and economic. I do not argue with the fact that sustainability has these three components; indeed, the Minister reminded us that they are the UN framework. I want to ensure, however, that socio-economic factors do not win out over protection of the marine environment. That is why the first part of the amendment ensures that, in calculating trade-offs between these three, the environment always remains the priority. This will ensure that we do not repeat past mistakes of putting short-term economic and social interests ahead of protecting the environment.

The second part of the amendment refers back to Clause 1(1). As we discussed in detail at earlier stages of the Bill, the eight fisheries objectives are not all born equal. The sustainability objective, as redefined in the amendment, takes precedence. The other seven fisheries objectives should support, or be subordinate to, environmental sustainability. This would make it unequivocal that the aim of the Bill is to harvest our marine resources without compromising the health of the marine environment. The amendment is not saying: “no fishing”; it is saying: “sensible fishing”. It is not saying that there will not have to be trade-offs, but it sets boundary conditions for the calculation of the trade-offs.

At earlier stages of the Bill, the Minister did not agree with the arguments that I have rehearsed. I suspect that he will argue again for a proportionate approach that gives equal, or at least undetermined, weight to all three components of sustainability. In Committee he acknowledged:

“We might have a collision point on sustainability.”—[Official Report, 4/3/20; col. 629.]


He also said:

“We must balance the protection of our marine environment with our objective of supporting thriving fishing and aquaculture sectors.”—[Official Report, 2/3/20; col. 461.]


If the Minister is not minded to accept this amendment, I would ask him to explain how these trade-offs will be made in practice.

This is our big chance to get the management of our fisheries on a genuinely sustainable footing and avoid the mistakes of the past. We can join the leading nations in the world such as Australia, New Zealand and the USA, managing our fisheries in a genuinely environmentally sustainable way, or we can languish lower down the international league table, with the risk of putting short-term gain ahead of long-term pain. I will listen carefully to the Minister’s reply at the end of this debate, but unless there is a significant change of tack, I would wish to test the opinion of the House on this crucial issue of the Fisheries Bill. I beg to move.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering [V]
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My Lords, I lend my support to this amendment. There is a certain attraction in having one objective, namely sustainability, in the context of the Fisheries Bill, as the primary objective. Part of my reasoning for this is that the House might wish to take a broader view and make sure that we come to the same view on the Fisheries Bill as we do, for example, when we come to consider the Environment Bill. We should not consider one in isolation from the other.

I was very taken by the Minister’s argument in Committee that in relation to objectives, there was a three-legged stool, whereby environmental, social and economic objectives should be given equal weight. There is a distinct attraction in singling out the environmental objective as the “prime fisheries objective”, as it says in the amendment. I know that it is a concern of Scottish fishermen and the Scottish Government in particular that we should look at the broader use of the marine environment, particularly in regard to renewables and other resources. There is an overwhelming attraction in having the sustainability objective as the prime objective. To put my mind at rest, I would be very interested to learn from the Minister, in the event of a contest between the three legs of the stool, how the Government would decide to prioritise between the economic, social and sustainability objectives.

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Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs [V]
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My Lords, I hope and expect that this amendment will not take as long as Amendment 2, so I will be very brief in my introduction. First, I thank the Minister and his officials for their very helpful discussions on the question of bycatch, and my Oxford University colleague Professor EJ Milner-Gulland for her expertise and advice in drafting the amendment.

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the bycatch objective focuses on the desired outcome, rather than on the processes that might contribute to the outcome. As drafted, the objective appears to focus primarily on undersized and unwanted fish species rather than on the wider marine environment. Yet we know that, globally, non-selective fishing gear—including long lines, gill nets and trawling—causes major mortality among non-target species. According to WWF, bycatch is the single largest cause of mortality in small cetaceans; it causes significant mortality in turtles and 26 species of seabirds; and it destroys large areas of coral reef. North Sea trawlers are estimated to discard up to 150,000 tonnes of marine invertebrates annually, including starfish, sea urchins, sponges and marine worms.

In Committee, the Minister assured us:

“The Government are resolutely committed to minimising bycatch of sensitive species as much as is practically possible”.—[Official Report, 2/3/20; col. 461.]


That is absolutely in line with the purpose of this amendment. He also referred specifically to seabirds, cetaceans, sharks and rays, and to the definition of “sensitive species”, which goes wider than the category of endangered species. Furthermore, he pointed out that the ecosystem objective encompasses the bycatch of species that are not covered by the bycatch objective.

In short, the intent of the Bill seems to me quite appropriate, although it may appear to some to be slightly confusing to have the issue of bycatch spread across two fisheries objectives. It would be very helpful if, in his reply, the Minister were able to remove any ambiguity by confirming that the bycatch objective aims to reduce bycatch—and bycatch mortality—to support the conservation of not only fish stocks but the wider marine environment. I beg to move.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering [V]
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My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, on bringing forward this amendment, which I have signed and am lending my support to. The amendment seeks to delete subsection (6) from the original Clause 1. I have particular difficulty with subsection (6)(c) and the wording therein. It says that,

“bycatch that is fish is landed, but only where this is appropriate and … does not create an incentive to catch fish that are below minimum conservation reference size”.

My noble friend Lord Gardiner will recall my disappointment in Committee that the original Bill had looked to have a discard objective. I would still place on record my belief that that is preferable to bycatch, or should be seen as additional to bycatch. During his comments in Committee my noble friend said:

“One limb of the bycatch objective is that catches are recorded and accounted for. We will improve the accuracy of the data available on fishing mortality and enable sustainable quota setting that avoids overfishing”.—[Official Report, 2/3/20; col. 425.]


I will take this opportunity to ask my noble friend how he expects to achieve that. As a supplementary point, it would be helpful to understand precisely what the bycatch objective is.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs [V]
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, for tabling Amendments 7 and 53. I have added my name to the latter. I strongly support them for the reasons she set out so clearly.

The climate change committee will publish its annual report to Parliament this Thursday. It will be a very uncomfortable read for the Government. The committee’s chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Deben, is reported in yesterday’s press as saying that the response to the climate crisis in the UK is being run by the Government like a Dad’s Army operation. Fisheries and aquaculture may not be the biggest contributor to our greenhouse gas inventory but, if we are to get to net zero by 2050 or even sooner, every sector of the UK will have to make its contribution. Furthermore, the way in which we fish will have to change as a result of the inevitable climate change to which we are already committed as a result of the greenhouse gases that we have pumped into the atmosphere over the past 150 years. For instance, there is growing evidence that changes in ocean temperature will affect the distribution of the plankton that form the basis of the marine food chain. As a consequence, the distribution and abundance of fish will change, and this will need to be taken into account and anticipated.

I had the privilege of sitting on the climate change committee for eight years, and chaired its adaptation sub-committee. In every one of our annual reports we called for a step change in action by the Government: on both mitigation, reducing our greenhouse gas footprint; and on adaptation, preparing for the inevitable climate change that we will experience in coming decades. Amendment 53 will ensure that fisheries and aquaculture contribute to that step change. There is overwhelming public support for more action from the Government on climate change. For instance, the recent Climate Assembly poll showed that 80% of people agree or strongly agree that, in the post-Covid world, government plans to achieve net zero should be advanced.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Pickering [V]
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My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, for bringing forward these two amendments and allowing the House to debate this issue briefly. What will be the relationship between this part of the Bill—and the new climate change objective, to which she referred—and the Environment Bill? Can my noble friend confirm my understanding that fisheries activities do not themselves contribute greatly to climate change? We should recognise that and commend this activity as being fairly neutral in that regard. My concern is the impact of climate change on our waters, as so eloquently expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs. My understanding is that, as the waters warm, various species migrate as they cannot adapt to the warmer temperatures. This will obviously have an impact on any agreement, either within the United Kingdom or, as a coastal state, with our erstwhile partners in the European Union under the new arrangements. How can the Minister and the Government be absolutely sure that any arrangement that we come to will not be undermined by the fact that the fish are no longer where we thought they were, but have migrated to colder waters?