Clause 117 — Grounds for designation of MCZs

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 26th October 2009.

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Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives 9:45 pm, 26th October 2009

I am disappointed and angry that this central element of the Bill has been allowed so little time. I urge Ministers to use whatever powers they have to allow us an extended debate tomorrow if at all possible.

I congratulate Paddy Tipping, and I support his amendments. I also congratulate Ms Clark. I have tabled five of the nine amendments, but I shall not detain the House too long. I also support amendments 1, 2 and 3. I know that the Minister's response to the suggestion in Committee of a more highly protected area was to say that it would create a two-tier system, but I urge her to reflect on the fact that in land use planning, there are areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks, listed buildings of various designations, article 4 directions and conservation areas-none of which diminishes the other designations.

Like the hon. Member for Sherwood, I think that the designation of MCZs should be fundamentally based in science. Yes, socio-economic factors may be taken into consideration, but they should be taken into account to a far greater extent in implementation. If the hon. Member for Great Grimsby looks at my amendments on the designation of conservation objectives within the MCZs and the byelaws that might be introduced under them, he will see that it is entirely appropriate that socio-economic factors-especially those of traditional fishing coastal communities whose livelihoods will be affected, whether to their benefit or detriment-should be considered when managing and implementing conservation policies. That balance is missing in the Bill at present. Throughout our debate on the Bill, both Ministers have perpetually argued that there is a balance to be had between socio-economic and conservation matters, but it applies only with a "may" in relation to the designation. Beyond that, socio-economic factors are entirely ignored.

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