All 2 Deidre Brock contributions to the Fisheries Act 2020

Read Bill Ministerial Extracts

Tue 1st Sep 2020
Fisheries Bill [Lords]
Commons Chamber

Ways and Means resolution & 2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons & Ways and Means resolution & Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons & 2nd reading & Programme motion & Money resolution
Tue 13th Oct 2020
Fisheries Bill [Lords]
Commons Chamber

Report stage & 3rd reading & Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage & Report stage: House of Commons

Fisheries Bill [Lords]

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Ways and Means resolution & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & Money resolution & Money resolution: House of Commons & Programme motion & Programme motion: House of Commons & Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons
Tuesday 1st September 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-R-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Report - (22 Jun 2020)
Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I beg to move,

That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Fisheries Bill [Lords] before it is clear what kind of deal will be made with the EU after the end of the implementation period and because the present approach of the Bill fails to secure a long-term sustainable future for the industry balancing the interests of the environment, the consumer and the producers of this industry which is so vital to the prosperity of fishing ports in Scotland, Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom.

It is always interesting to debate a Bill that comes from the unelected part of this Parliament, which is an unusual concept in a state that likes to imagine it is a democracy, but this Brexit Bill—one of many—will not, in actuality, offer the much heralded control of our waters that the Brexiters claimed it would.

As Lord Hain said during a debate on amendments to the Bill, failure to reach an agreement with the EU by the end of this year will mean that control of the waters around these islands is governed by

“the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea—UNCLOS —which requires co-operation and efforts to agree rules on access to waters, as well as setting catch limits and standards on conservation and management of marine resources.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 22 June 2020; Vol. 804, c. 26.]

That of course means that historical access to fishing grounds enjoyed by fleets from other nations will become part of the new framework, just as it became part of the common fisheries policy.

The sensible solution, of course, is to ensure that there is a deal in place before the end of this year, but the EU will seek to protect the fishing interests of its member states, so that will mean that those foreign fleets have access to our waters. Round and round it goes.

If there is no deal, the very important seafood fisheries will be denied access to their most important market: the EU. Given that those fisheries represent a substantial part of the employment in some smaller coastal communities, that is a very worrying prospect. It is not only bad news for them, though. Boats sailing from ports here will be denied access to waters that they currently access as part of the EU, including, as the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) mentioned, waters outwith the EU that we currently have agreements to fish in as a result of EU membership. It is a bourach, so it is, and it threatens jobs, income and the very survival of some communities.

Of course foreign boats will still have access to our waters, as the current Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made clear when he was at DEFRA. Three years ago, Danish newspapers were reporting him telling representatives of the Danish fleet that they would have access, and, at about the same time, diplomats were telling the Iberian fleets that they would have access. I acknowledge that clause 17 appears to give the Scottish Government the right to control fishing in Scottish waters and the same rights to the Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments, but that is completely undermined by clause 12, which says that a

“foreign fishing boat must not enter British fishery limits”

unless it has a licence, except if there is

“a purpose recognised by international law or by any international agreement or arrangement to which the United Kingdom is a party.”

That means that the devolved Administrations can work however they want to protect and enhance the marine environment and fish stocks. They can plan to protect coastal communities. They can look at ways of protecting jobs in the fishing industry and associated industries. They can put conditions on licences. They can limit fishing opportunities and they can limit catch and species. It means nothing—absolutely nothing—if the UK Government then sign a deal with another trading bloc or other states, which allow them access to our waters. It means nothing if those other fleets insist on their historical rights either, if UNCLOS is invoked and the UK is forced into the accommodation of other fleets, as referred to by Lord Hain. It does not matter how much the devolved Administrations want to do, they will not be able to prevent foreign fleets fishing in our waters, as they always have, licence or no licence.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Carmichael
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Fergus Ewing told the Scottish Parliament Committee on 19 August—I shall quote his words exactly—

“I’m confident this Bill gives Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament the necessary powers and tools to do that”—

the preparation for the end of the transition period—

“in a way that respects devolution.”

Is the hon. Lady telling the House that she thinks Fergus Ewing was wrong in his assessment of the Bill?

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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As the right hon. Gentleman knows of course, with legislative consent motions, which is what the Cabinet Secretary was speaking about, a consent is needed, sought and approved only for the devolved areas. I will be speaking about other areas that are still reserved to this Parliament—for the moment anyway.

Let me return now to my speech. This also has a particular resonance here, because, as the reasoned amendment alludes to, we still have no idea what the agreement with the EU will look like and we still have no idea what the seascape will be in which the fishing businesses have to operate. There is still no clarity. That deal will not be good for fishing communities. They remember that a previous Tory Government sold them out in negotiations over Europe and now they fear that the new generation of Tories will do exactly the same. No deal would not be good for them either. It would remove their market at a stroke and open up our fishing grounds to foreign fleets without our actually having any agreed limitations in place.

There is no word on how the UK Government intend to police fishing. There is some talk of borrowing some vessels from the Navy, or of having the Navy undertake patrols, forgetting, of course, that the Navy’s surface fleet is completely overstretched and out of resources and that, frankly, nuclear submarines are not exactly the right approach to fishing infringements.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Carmichael
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. She is being very, very generous. Whether that is wise is another matter. Regardless of the terms of the deal, or even if there is no deal, we will have to have a UK-wide framework Bill, which is what this is. She has heard the words of Fergus Ewing. Why, in view of what he says about the nature of this Bill and the co-operation of Scottish and UK Ministers, does she therefore now invite the House to decline to give it a Second Reading? Where is the sense of that for the fishermen in my constituency?

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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I have made it very clear that there are elements in this Bill that relate to issues that are still reserved, unfortunately, to this Parliament. I will address that later in my speech.

Andrew Bowie Portrait Andrew Bowie (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On the exact same point made by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael), Fergus Ewing, on that same day, in that same meeting, said:

“You will have noted that I have recommended that we consent to the bill as introduced in full.”

So if what the hon. Lady is saying is correct, why does she disagree with the rural affairs Minister in the Scottish Parliament, who is a Minister in her own Government and is in her own party?

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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It is very interesting to hear the Scottish Tories being so protective of fishing communities. I only wish their current leader would go to make his apologies to Scotland’s farmers for the insults he offered them yesterday and the giant stooshie he created, which he will be some time recovering from. It does not matter how much the devolved Administrations want to do, they will not be able to prevent foreign fleets from fishing in our waters, as they always have, licence or no licence.

Liz Saville Roberts Portrait Liz Saville Roberts
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As we are talking about devolved powers, I wonder whether the hon. Lady shares my concern that we do not know the mechanism by which the quotas will be divvied up among the four nations, nor what the arbitration arrangements will be, but we also have the anomalous situation whereby the Government here will act as poacher and gamekeeper for the UK-wide consideration of fisheries and also for the English interests.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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I absolutely agree. I think there are major concerns on this and the Bill does not provide any sort of genuine framework. It is full of unknowns. It is built on the shifting sands of a Trade Bill where we have no idea what the outcome will be. Should we just shrug our shoulders and crack on? The fact that this Government have had more than four years to come up with this Bill and this is what they have arrived at is a disgrace. [Interruption.] I am sorry, but the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) is interrupting from a sedentary position.

We may be no longer contributing to the discussion on the common fisheries policy at the EU, but we will still, in effect, be subject to it or, even worse, getting the even less savoury end of the stick. Scotland’s fishing community is being sold out by the Tories once again: they were sold out as they went in and they are being sold out again as we leave the EU. Control of who can fish in Scotland’s waters will not be exercised by the Scottish Government, control over fishing in Wales will not belong to the Welsh and control over Northern Ireland’s fishing will not be decided in Stormont. Despite the bluff and bluster, that back door is wedged open.

There is a similar situation on the landing requirement, which was a creation of the amendment in the Lords—that only goes to show that it is not just the Government who do not get devolution. The landing requirement would be decided in Whitehall, after a brief consultation with the devolved Administrations—not an agreement with them, but a consultation. There is no scrutiny role for the legislators of the devolved Administrations, which are, after all, supposed to have a devolved competence in this area. The Scottish Parliament is being sidelined, as are the Senedd and Stormont.

Jack McConnell is the UK Government’s latest great champion in their futile campaign against Scottish independence, so it might be advisable for them to listen to him when he says, as he did in discussing this amendment, that he had

“some concerns about the constitutional principles relating to this amendment...I am concerned that the amendment simply talks about “consulting” the devolved Governments—particularly the Scottish Government, who have clear legislative authority—rather than “agreeing” with them a national landing requirement. I am interested in knowing the thinking on having a UK-wide national landing requirement imposed from the centre rather than agreed by consensus across the four nations”.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 24 June 2020; Vol. 804, c. 270-71.]

I think that is code, from a former First Minister of Scotland, for, “It will never work.” So fishing devolved is fishing retained, and it does not end there. The right of foreign fleets to fish in Scottish waters will be determined more by the actions of the UK Government in entering into international agreements than it will be by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament, as will be quotas and days at sea—or “fishing opportunities”, to use the jargon of the Bill. There is, in black and white, the preparation for the UK Government rendering our fishing communities subject to the CFP even after we have left the EU. Clause 24 allows the Secretary of State to determine the maximum quantity of seafish that may be caught by British fishing boats and the maximum number of days that they may spend at sea. That is qualified in subsection (2) as being exercisable in relation to satisfying

“an international obligation of the United Kingdom to determine the fishing opportunities of the United Kingdom.”

That is the CFP in a bilateral agreement. Again, the Secretary of State must consult, but does not have to reach agreement with the devolved Administrations. But those Administrations will be responsible for ensuring that the rules laid down by Whitehall are enforced—hardly a partnership of equals, is it?

In clause 38 more powers are reserved to Whitehall that would be more useful in the hands of the devolved Administrations, including provision about fisheries, aquaculture and other things, again sheltering under the umbrella of international obligations. There are powers to impose quotas, limit time at sea, mandate processing procedures, determine what gear can be used and how, decide how fisheries products can be marketed, impose regulations over landings, setting targets on marine stock and to monitor and enforce compliance with all those powers. That takes enforcement away from the devolved Administrations. Again, the requirement is only to consult, not to agree with the devolved Administrations.

Robert Goodwill Portrait Mr Goodwill
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am confused. If the hon. Lady had her way, she would give control back to Brussels, including Ministers from many countries that do not even have a fishing industry and have other fish to fry.

--- Later in debate ---
Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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The right hon. Gentleman will of course be aware that the Scottish National party Government are keen on rejoining the EU at some stage but of course reforming the CFP. The fact that we have decried the CFP for many years now is surely well known to the right hon. Gentleman, given his background. I am surprised that he is not aware of it.

Schedule 8 gives the Scottish Government the power to do the same thing in Scottish waters, but that does not allow the Scottish Government to dictate to England, Wales or Northern Ireland in the way that the English Government can dictate to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Likewise, clause 41 would in theory prevent the Secretary of State from making those regulations for the waters governed by the devolved Administrations—I am pleased to see the Secretary of State checking his Bill to confirm my point—if they relate to an area of devolved responsibility. We already know, though, that the argument will be that this is an international obligation, which is therefore reserved, and we know that this Government, frankly, have scant regard for the dividing line between their powers and the powers of the devolved Administrations.

So we will leave the EU; we will no longer have access to the markets that are so important to our seafood and fishing industries. Our fisheries producers organisations will no longer be recognised in the EU. We will not have control of our waters. Whitehall will be taking over some of the responsibilities and powers of the devolved Administrations. Landing requirements will be imposed from Whitehall, and the whole mess will be impossible to understand.

I have never been able to understand why anyone thought Brexit would bring benefits for fishing communities, but I now cannot comprehend how anyone thinks that there is anything other than disaster in this. I cannot support the Bill. It does not provide a framework for fisheries after Brexit. It does not protect our fishing communities. It does nothing to make things easier for those communities. It is an empty shell of a thing, and we should not be supporting it.

Fisheries Bill [Lords]

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Report stage & 3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Tuesday 13th October 2020

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 13 October 2020 - (13 Oct 2020)
Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a great pleasure to speak in this historic debate. After 40 years, we can now look at a fishing policy for the United Kingdom, and it is a great moment. I sat in the European Parliament for 10 years, and I do not think many in this House, whether they liked the common agricultural policy or not, would stand up and support the common fisheries policy, because it was not a great success. This is the moment to rectify many of the wrongs that happened. As I have said before in the Chamber, there is no doubt that when we went into what was the Common Market back in the 1970s, the fishing industry paid a heavy price, and it is time to put that right. Not only was the share of fish wrong for United Kingdom fishermen, but the policy also saw millions of tonnes of healthy fish being discarded over the years. We now have the opportunity to put that right.

I very much welcome the Bill. The Government will probably be delighted that I am fully supporting them tonight; I will make no further comment on that. I support Government new clause 8, because we need to bring back control of our waters, so that we can catch more fish and manage it more sustainably. We also need to remember that many fish stocks move between national waters, and because there is common access to them, they are at risk of being over-exploited. We can do much more to manage this as an independent coastal state than we could when we were part of the common fisheries policy.

I think we can all agree that the common fisheries policy was not ideal. It was cumbersome and slow, and getting 26 member states to agree to any changes in policy was almost impossible. Outside the common fisheries policy, we can shut down places that are being overfished more quickly, like Norway, and open up other fishing grounds that can be exploited. I am glad that Ministers have been closely following the way that Norway approaches its agreements. We have signed an agreement with the Norwegians, which shows that this can be done; there is only the mere detail of signing the agreement with the EU, but that is proving a little difficult at the moment. Each year, our UK fishing fleet lands £32 million-worth of fish from Norwegian waters, so this is an excellent start.

We eat a great deal of cod in this country, some of which we catch and much of which we import. We have to ensure that we keep our export markets, because we export much of the fish we catch. In coastal communities like mine—we have a little coastline in Seaton, Branscombe and Beer; it is not massive, but it is there—people expect to see great benefits from leaving the common fisheries policy, and we need to see that turned into a physical reality. The Government are right to drive a hard bargain on fishing in these negotiations, because it is something that people really care about. We said in our manifesto that we would bring back our sovereign waters and the fish that come with it. It is socially and economically important to see the regeneration of our coastal communities after Brexit.

Our fishing sector employs over 25,000 people. Around 18,000 work in the fish-processing industry, which is important. It is important to enhance the fish processing industry and we have a great need to market this great fish that we catch. We have the opportunity to improve our dietary habits and eat a little more different fish. Many of those can be caught in Cornwall, and even those of us who live in Devon would be very happy to buy some Cornish fish.

Most of our fisheries are small family businesses. Over 80% of them employ fewer than five people. We can grow the sector with access to more fish and good reciprocal deals. Lots of people say that the fishing industry is not important, but I believe that it is very important to this country because we are a coastal nation. It is interesting that we can and will eat more fish. The more we have control over our fishing waters, the more interest there will be in eating fish. People are becoming more and more interested in the food they eat, and fish will be very much part of that.

The UK has a large fishing zone compared with many of our continental neighbours. Under the common fisheries policy, EU fishermen benefit hugely from reciprocal access to UK waters. In 2015, for example, EU vessels caught some 383,000 tonnes in UK waters, raising some £484 million in revenue. In the same year, UK vessels caught only 111,000 tonnes in EU member states’ waters, raising £114 million, so there is a great benefit to leaving the common fisheries policy. EU vessels benefited by a ratio of 6:1 under the CFP. I do not think anyone could believe that that is fair. We need to rebalance this and reduce EU vessels’ access to a more sustainable level. We are an independent coastal state. We reclaim our waters, we reclaim the fish and then we sit down and negotiate, under our rules and regulations, what access there may or may not be to European vessels.

When we leave the common fisheries policy at the end of this year, we will have control over our waters. This will be good for our marine environment and good for local fishing industries and coastal communities, who will benefit from a greater catch, especially for our under- 10 metre fleet.

The Government have been wise to look at the Norway model when it comes to fisheries because Norway has far greater control over its waters and acts quickly to shut them down if they are being over-fished. The Fisheries Bill is therefore a great opportunity to ensure that we can operate a more dynamic fisheries management system. The Bill is also a significant opportunity to deliver a much needed reversal of the fortunes of coastal communities and small-scale fishers, and I greatly welcome the direction of travel of our DEFRA Ministers. I also look forward to being able to help the sea anglers of this country and make sure that they have access to fish, because they are a huge economic benefit to the fishing industry but also to recreational fishing.

I welcome the Bill tonight.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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I rise to speak to new clauses 1 to 7 and amendment 57 tabled by the Scottish National party.

It is notable that when Brexit negotiations ran into trouble recently the first concession that the Prime Minister’s hand-picked negotiator reached for was fishing. Straight off the bat, fishing was first to be sacrificed. It will be for a few years at first, but there will be more, step after step, until the promises that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made to foreign fleets will be realised. Their access to our waters will be assured.

The fact that the PM picked this negotiator and, one has to assume, gave him his instructions, shows that the attitude that the fishing industry is expendable goes right to the top of the Tory party and right to the heart of the UK Government. Given the impact a no-deal exit would have on the industry, getting a deal is essential, but in order to get a deal, this Government look willing to sell out the industry. Heads and the fishing industry loses; tails and the fishing industry loses also.

Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Sheryll Murray
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the hon. Lady accept that under the Scottish nationalist policy of staying in the EU, she would take Scottish fishermen back into the common fisheries policy against their will?

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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I think the hon. Lady is well aware of the SNP’s policy towards the re-entry of an independent Scotland into the EU, but I remind her that the Scottish Government have called the CFP

“the EU’s most unpopular and discredited policy”,

so we would certainly be starting negotiations from that point.

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations sent out a briefing in advance of the Second Reading debate in which it said:

“If the Government backs down on its promises to the UK fishing industry, many of the objectives that the Fisheries Bill is aiming to achieve will be impossible.”

I do not share the optimism about the Bill in the first place, but I do share the concern about the impact on the fishing communities being sold out by a UK Government once again—sold out to get a deal on the way in and sold out to get a deal on the way out.

Brexiteers relied heavily on the fishing argument during the referendum, promising that leaving the EU would produce a “sea of opportunity”. That was only ever going to be for some of the fleets, and I fear that it will turn out to be nonsense for all of them. The repeated promises of this Government to our fishing communities over years that Brexit meant taking back full control of the seas have turned out to be as empty of delivery as the emergency Brexit ferry companies were empty of ferries. Chief negotiator David Frost confirmed that the UK Government were offering a three-year transition period for EU fishers in UK waters on top of the four and a half years since the referendum, but we still do not know what follows that. It beggars belief that we are in the closing months of the transition period and we are still negotiating terms with our nearest and most important seafood export market. We still have no outline of what those negotiations look like or what the possible deals might be. Fishing communities that rely on exports for the finances to keep their communities alive are being left hanging, with no deal or no prospect of a deal, massive bureaucracy if they now want to export, and huge queues at the border posts with only some vague promises that their product might be prioritised by customs. As an Ealing comedy, it lacks the humour and the humanity but it certainly has the farce in spades.

At the very least, we once again ask the Government to take this opportunity to give some assistance to our Scottish fishing communities and right an injustice that has been hanging around for a very long time and where they might do a little to make amends. New clauses 1 to 7 make the case effectively for devolving control of the Scottish aspect of levies imposed by Seafish to Scottish Ministers. It has long been the view of the Scottish Government that the current arrangements for the Seafish levy are not fit for purpose in Scotland and have had an ultimately detrimental effect on the promotion of our fine Scottish seafood. The inequity of the red meat levy has taken years to be resolved. It is more than time that the issue was finally resolved and management transferred to the Scottish authorities, as would be consistent with devolved competencies.

The new clauses would enable Scottish Ministers to further support the industry and promote the quality and excellence of our Scottish seafood products. While we will press only new clause 3 to a vote, I urge the Secretary of State and the Minister to revise their opposition to these very reasonable processes. New clause 3 brings transparency to the levy finances and the details of their distribution across the UK. Transparency seems to me to be a good thing. Surely no one could argue against that, and I can see no reason why the Government continue to resist it. After all, the Minister knows that a commitment was made at the time of the Smith commission that the Scottish and UK Governments would work together to explore whether to revise arrangements in respect of levy-raising using the specific examples of red meat and seafood. Now the red meat levy problem is finally on its way to being sorted, but I am afraid that the commitment to properly explore arrangements for seafood has not been followed through on. There has been no such work and no such exploration to date of those legal and practical arrangements, which is why I would like to see on the record today a commitment to do that, with a timeline to follow shortly thereafter for the long-promised internal and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs review of sea fish, which would take on board all the matters covered in my amendments.

Liz Saville Roberts Portrait Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

One point that I think is important to many in the Scottish fleet, as it certainly is to the Welsh fleet, is to see an increase in the reserve quota that would allow greater flexibility for our fleet. We are keen to see a provision in the Bill that would seek assurance that in the future that will be the case.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
- Hansard - -

All from the devolved authorities would like to see that, and the hon. Lady will recall that at the recent roundtable discussion between the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation the Minister said that a consultation will be taking place on the distribution of quotas between the devolved authorities. We are certainly looking forward to that. [Interruption.] And it has been launched today—good to hear.

New clause 3 would also mark a useful first step—long overdue—to giving effect to the agreed commitment in the Smith commission report. Fiscal transparency and accountability and a proper and thorough review of current arrangements would help determine whether an equitable share is being received and how to address any issues. This Tory Government may have forgotten the commitments made as part of that process to bolster devolution and strengthen Scotland’s powers, but we have not.

The Secretary of State made it clear the last time we debated this Bill that the involvement of the devolved nations had greatly improved it, but as that example shows, and as the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) has mentioned, the Bill is simply still not good enough. It is a hastily cobbled-together mess, as we see when we look at the dozens of technical amendments tabled by the Government in a frantic attempt to tidy it up. I feel sorry for the civil servants who have had to operate under these conditions. We are left simply wishing that the Government had listened to the devolved Administrations when they were saying that we needed an extension before leaving the EU or, even better, when they argued against leaving the EU altogether. Here we are being asked to agree skeletal framework legislation simply to cover this Government’s intransigence and their British exceptionalist view—it is a fig leaf for the absence of a realpolitik attitude in Whitehall, and a failure to appreciate the situation that the UK found itself in before the pandemic arrived or the massively worse situation that unfortunately it finds itself in now.

We do know, but I will remind the House, that the law of the sea will be the fall-back position if, as looks increasingly and disturbingly possible, we end up in the worst of all possible worlds, with no deal. I know that some people have laid heavy bets on that scenario and stand to make a lot of cash from it, but massive wealth in the hands of some is no substitute for a decent living for many.

The Prime Minister, in his best Bertie Wooster chant, wants to, “Get Brexit done”, as if there is a crock waiting for us at the end of a rainbow, but even if we get a deal done, we have no certainty of the position for fisherfolk. As I mentioned, the Minister has announced just now that a consultation is being launched that will debate how any additional quota will be divided between the four nations, but that is if any additional quota is there to be shared. As the scientific advice and information from the Marine Stewardship Council makes clear, stocks are not in the best of health, so there may not be extra quota to share over that three-year extension to the transition period. Equally, the Government have not outlined what they intend to do about the large chunks of England’s quotas vested in foreign vessels or what they think might be a sensible way forward for reallocating those quotas over the next few years. Will it be the fishing equivalent of a Government land grab, or will things just be left well alone, so that the “sea of opportunity” remains nothing more than a “Narnia” tale to be recounted in years to come. The referendum was a couple of Tory Prime Ministers and two snap elections ago, but there still has not been anything worked out about how to deal with the fall-out. The light is dimming on our EU membership and only now, after this painfully long journey, is the question being asked about what to do. We recognise that some sort of legislative framework is needed; I should speak here to amendment 57 before I conclude. We propose inserting the word “short” before “long term” to ensure that sustainability is not an objective that can be kicked down the road and not dealt with until later, but must be worked on at all times. The UK, it must be admitted, is not achieving a sustainable fisheries management, so the amendment would encourage the UK Government to take into account sustainability when carrying out their duties. Our hope is that this will be seen as the constructive proposal that it is meant to be.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall (Totnes) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If the hon. Lady has such a concern about sustainability, will the SNP start addressing the Scottish salmon fishermen?

--- Later in debate ---
Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
- Hansard - -

I assure the hon. Gentleman that that is something the Scottish Government are taking in hand at the moment.

We recognise that some sort of legislative framework is needed and we have all heard the fears that there might not be time, even now, to put in place all the fishing legislation that is required, but my view is that the Bill is not what is needed. There is a shortfall between the great expectations that fishers and producers were fed by this Government and the deliverables. It is not enough, it is not in time and it does not do what it says on the tin.

Scotland is ill served by this Tory Government and their failures, but so is England. There was a time when Ministers would resign for getting it so badly wrong, but these days it seems that the default position is finding someone to blame, preferably someone in Brussels.

Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Sheryll Murray
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is an absolute pleasure to follow the spokesperson for the SNP, the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock). I have got some news for her: she said the light was going out on our EU membership, but as far as I am aware, we are in a transition period and the light switch has already been turned off. It is also a pleasure to speak during consideration of this historic Bill on Report. The Bill does provide a framework for fisheries management after sovereignty of this valuable United Kingdom resource is, rightfully, restored to this House.

I want to address some of the amendments. It is disappointing that the SNP has tabled such a divisive set of new clauses, using the valuable platform of the Sea Fish Industry Authority to peddle its nationalist agenda. Perhaps we should remember that Seafish is based in two locations, Edinburgh and Grimsby. Board meetings may be held at either office, or at other locations in the UK. Seafish covers the whole UK and has served the fishing industry well through its current structure. I urge every hon. Member to reject these divisive new clauses.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
- Hansard - -

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Murray
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No, I will not. Other people want to speak.

Other new clauses have been tabled by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael). I apologise for speaking to them before he has done so, but he is after me on the call list. I know he is well intentioned, given his interest in promoting safety aboard fishing vessels. He has been a strong voice for fishing safety for many years. Owners of UK-flagged fishing vessels are responsible for basic health and safety on board their boats, safe working practices and safe equipment. The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997 include measures to encourage improvement in safety and health of workers at sea. As far as I understand it—the Minister will correct me if I have got this wrong—licensing will be able to control the terms on which vessels from other member states, or other nations, because there will not be member states as far as we are concerned, can access the UK 200-mile or median line limit. It will also ensure that the boats that fish in those waters are responsible, as is the behaviour of the skippers and crew of those vessels.

--- Later in debate ---
Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I was not in the Chamber when the Minister made her opening remarks. I think she may have thought that it was a probing amendment, but I am sure that she listened to the points made. The right hon. Gentleman has now suggested that he will at least press either new clause 11 or 12 to a vote, and I am sure that she will respond to his points. I also listened closely to the heartfelt speech by my hon. Friend the Member for South East Cornwall (Mrs Murray) on not only her own experience of a tragic family bereavement but the representations that she has heard from fishing communities in her long career advocating on their behalf. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say, but I accept the constructive way in which the right hon. Gentleman has put his case.

Since the right hon. Gentleman has intervened, I can now mention Shetland. An organisation in Shetland has today published the opportunities for the United Kingdom to race up the global rankings in terms of what we can do as a country regarding our share of catch from UK waters. At the moment, about 70% of the fish caught and landed in our waters is caught by foreign vessels. If we compare that with Norway, 84% of the fish and shellfish caught in its waters are caught by Norwegian vessels. I think it is 95% in Iceland.

That is the opportunity that is available to Scotland and the United Kingdom, and that is why many of us in this Chamber are excited about the opportunities for this country, our fishermen and our fishing communities. That is why I had to briefly take a moment to call out the, yet again, negativity and pointless point scoring from the Scottish National party on this issue.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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rose—

Douglas Ross Portrait Douglas Ross
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I will gladly give way to the hon. Lady, and hope that she has listened to my constructive criticism, will look at this afresh and suddenly decide that the SNP Members are not here just to be bitter and twisted, and for petty point scoring; they are here to work for Scotland’s fishermen.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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There are always conditions attached to interventions when the hon. Gentleman allows them—very male, Madam Deputy Speaker. He clearly has ambitions to one day lead in the Scottish Parliament and become the First Minister of Scotland. He always references his constituency and the fact that a large percentage of his constituents voted for Brexit, but when will he accept that Scotland voted 62% to remain, and rejected Brexit? If he has ambitions to be the First Minister, how will he reflect that when he is making his pitch to voters?

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. We will be rather careful here. This is a narrow Bill, specifically about—

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have just had to endure a personal attack from the hon. Member for Moray (Douglas Ross). I was making the point that if he wants to make those sorts of attacks, he has to be prepared to take it.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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That is not a point of order for the Chair. I assume that every Member can take it when they are having an argument. Let me just take a step back to the hon. Lady’s intervention. It was an interesting political point, but I want to ensure that in answering it the hon. Gentleman does so in terms of the Bill that is before us tonight.