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New Clause 2 — Power to enter into agreements with eligible bodies

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 26th October 2009.

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Photo of Huw Irranca-Davies Huw Irranca-Davies Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Marine and Natural Environment) 4:30 pm, 26th October 2009

Not only will the IFCA membership be decided in consultation, but everybody will have the opportunity to put their views forward. I am sure that some people will feel that they are not represented fully, but that can change from time to time as well. We are enhancing the membership of IFCAs, so that they will have more than the traditional expertise of sea fisheries committees. It is worth putting on record the fact that there is a genuine body of expertise in sea fisheries committees around the country, but we are talking about an enhanced role, with other people involved. Rather than having me prescribe what will happen, everyone will have the opportunity in the consultation to put in their two-penn'orth about who should be represented.

The hon. Member for St. Ives talked about disagreements, which touches on the point that Bill Wiggin has just raised. If there are disagreements, there is a duty in clause 169 for IFCAs to co-operate with other local bodies. We expect them to work closely together, as they do now. Local issues should be looked at locally, without nanny-state interventions or a Big Brother or big Minister stepping in. We are confident, by and large, that it will be possible to resolve such issues locally.

The hon. Member for St. Ives asked why we have chosen a five-year review and how disagreements will be resolved in between. New clause 4 says "no later than" every five years. A review could therefore be conducted sooner if, for example, there were representations from a relevant body, or if the Secretary of State decided, in respect of representations made to him, that there was a need to review the situation on the ground.

I welcome the support of Mr. Walker and his work on the issue over some time. It is pertinent that he has recognised that the new clauses and amendments deliver common sense-we cannot always say that about legislation, but they are common sense. My hon. Friend Martin Salter was challenged on the definition-I understand the point about the definition. This is a practical way forward. It will not be necessary arbitrarily to define the definition, because it will be known from the people who are out there doing the work and patrolling. The amendment will allow a local definition to be introduced. I welcome the support of my hon. Friend and others as the Bill went through Committee; it delivers common sense.

I welcome the intervention by Bob Spink, who is a strong advocate on behalf of his constituents and the fleet in his area. In the light of the comments that I have just made, I confirm that IFCAs will receive representations from fishing interests, and I have tried to make it clear that we want to ensure that those interests are genuinely represented, as clause 151(2)(a) provides.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire referred to Wales, and I am pleased that it has arisen early in the debate. Who speaks for Wales? The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire rose to his feet. Nothing in the Bill requires the Welsh Assembly Government to obtain permission from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on IFCAs and delegations. The Bill does not require that, and I shall explain why.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for tabling amendment 27, which is pertinent. His intention is to allow Welsh Assembly Ministers the same flexibility as that prescribed for England in Government amendments to delegate IFCA functions. However, the stated intention of my colleagues in the Welsh Assembly Government, from the start of the Bill, was to take the same functions as IFCAs in-house and explicitly not to allow delivery of those functions by other bodies. That is the premise on which we proceeded.

In response to that, the Bill does not prevent Welsh Assembly Ministers from working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure good management of the inshore area, including estuaries. The Government of Wales Act 2006 and the Environment Act 1995 allow the National Assembly for Wales to pass secondary legislation at the request of the Environment Agency, and for agency officers to be cross-warranted to enforce against the legislation.

I do not believe that the amendment is necessary to allow better delivery of inshore fisheries management functions in Wales.

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