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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

No, that is not exactly the case. However, the situation on the ground in Wales means that by virtue of the function of the Welsh Assembly Government to take these powers in-house-the Welsh Assembly Government will effectively become the IFCA for Wales-they already have the power to make delegations. If they were to want such powers, they would indeed have to return here, and I am sure that, on these Benches at least, we would be open to that possibility. As I hope that I have explained, the history of the journey to reach this part of the Bill was very much predicated on, and reflects the initial concerns and interests of, Welsh Assembly Government Ministers.

Attempting to unravel all this at such a late stage would be complex: it would involve more than amendment 27, as there would be a great deal of detailed read-across in respect of much of the Bill. We are now in the final stages-I hope so, Mr. Deputy Speaker-of this landmark Bill, and I do not want to revisit an issue as fundamental as this one, particularly when the trajectory that we followed was initially set by Welsh Assembly Government Ministers. Welsh Assembly Government Ministers have some flexibility to delegate functions, even though they are taken in-house, but the situation in England is very different. We need to provide this flexibility to the IFCAs we are setting up, so that they can work collaboratively on the ground.

To clarify, Welsh Ministers have the power to make orders that would assist the Environment Agency to undertake management functions on inshore fisheries. There is some flexibility, as I have said, but this would need to be brought back to this House to provide the sort of mechanism that the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnorshire is asking for.

With the assurance that what we have now is a genuine undertaking reached in discussion with Welsh Government Assembly Ministers very early on, which explains how we have got to where we are, and with the flexibility to take the matter in-house and to issue other ways of working to the Environment Agency, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will feel confident enough to withdraw the amendment. There may be a future opportunity to provide the sort of mechanism that he wants, but it is not appropriate right here or right now.

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