Clause 117 — Grounds for designation of MCZs

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 26th October 2009.

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Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Conservative, Suffolk Coastal 9:30 pm, 26th October 2009

I rise to support amendment 3, which has been moved by Ms Clark. The first reason is that to talk about the zones without talking at this point about ecosystems misses the point-it does not make the vital point that the system is a central part of a sensible conservation measure.

We have for too long believed that we can take bits out of the natural order of things and protect them, and not think about the total system. I must tell Mr. Mitchell that to say that not knowing enough about something means that we should not do it is a very frightening concept. We would actually never have taken any conservation measures, because the truth is that the less we know about conservation, the more we may be doing very serious damage.

In fact, we have done a huge amount of work, as a result of which the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran has moved her amendment. The Government will have to explain extremely carefully why they do not want what is so obviously a necessary addition. Indeed, not to go for the ecosystem approach is to ignore all the sensible views of environmentalists, because the amendment would remind us of the real nature upon which the species that we are seeking to protect depend.

I hope very much that the Government, at this last moment, agree that the measure is a necessary step. If they do not accept the amendment, many people outside this place will believe that they have gone only halfway to understanding the issues before us. The measure is a natural addition and I hope that they accept it. If they do not, I hope there is a Division in which the House supports what is a crucial part of the defence of our marine habitat.

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