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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, not least because, now that the Bill has come through Public Bill Committee and travelled through the other place with extensive deliberations having already taken place, the process of rewriting complex and detailed further amendments-not just the hon. Gentleman's amendment 27-would be extremely difficult, because of the scores of read-across issues. I have to say that that prospect is too nightmarish to behold at this stage. We are now at a certain point in the parliamentary cycle and at a certain point in the Bill's passage. If we were in the pre-consultation period-we should bear in mind that, with all the lobbying, the Bill has already taken six years or longer to get to this point-we might be able to build this concept into the Bill. As I have said, however, to unravel all that now would be to the detriment of the chances of this Bill ever succeeding.

Welsh Ministers will have the same level of powers to manage fisheries as will be available to IFCAs in England. In those cases where Welsh Ministers want to delegate functions to the Environment Agency, they would need to make orders on behalf of that agency-and they can. This would enable them to ensure good management of the inshore areas, including estuaries, in Wales. Welsh Ministers have argued in the past that the inability of the Environment Agency to introduce legislation for sea fisheries would interfere with the lead role in implementation of the water framework directive and make it more difficult for Wales to comply with WFD obligations. That relates to the quality of water, fish and invertebrate fauna.

It will be possible for Welsh Ministers to make statutory instruments on the request of the Environment Agency. Although this will not be as flexible as giving the agency direct powers to make legislation, the Welsh Assembly Government chose to bring inshore fisheries management powers in-house, thereby complicating any subsequent proposal to delegate them. The Welsh Assembly Government would effectively give the agency powers to make byelaws. The issue would require considered, careful exploration. In the time available, it would be extremely difficult to draft a sensible proposal, with input not only from the Welsh Assembly Government but from external stakeholders.

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