Leaving the EU: Fishing

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 2018.

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Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray 12:00 am, 11th July 2018

What assessment he has made of the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of David Duguid David Duguid Conservative, Banff and Buchan

What assessment he has made of the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

What assessment he has made of the opportunities for the Scottish fishing industry after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I am proud to say that this Conservative Government are unequivocally taking Scotland’s fishermen out of the hated common fisheries policy. Just last week, the UK Government published their fisheries White Paper, which sets out that as an independent coastal state, we will at long last regain control of our waters.

Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray

Does the Secretary of State know whether the Scottish Government are supporting the central aims of that fisheries White Paper—namely that we leave the CFP; that we decide who catches what, where and when; that we manage the expansion of our industry in a sustainable way; and that we are not blackmailed by Brussels for our market—or does the SNP want to keep us in the hated CFP?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Hopelessly long. I have already said that we need to speed up. The trouble is that people have these pre-prepared, scripted questions—[Interruption.] Well, Douglas Ross has learned it, and we are grateful to him.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

Sadly, the Scottish Government’s position remains exactly as it has been throughout: to take Scotland back into the CFP.

Photo of David Duguid David Duguid Conservative, Banff and Buchan

Last week’s publication of the fisheries White Paper was a hugely welcome step for an industry that is looking to capitalise on the benefits of leaving the EU. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, during the exit negotiations with the EU, this Government will keep the issues of access to British waters for EU vessels and access to the EU market for British fish separate, as they must not be conflated?

Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it will take many years to build the Scottish fishing fleet back up to full strength, but that that would never happen if the SNP got its way and kept us in the common fisheries policy?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

Absolutely, and we can see that in the response of the fishing industry. This Government are right behind the fishing industry in taking advantage of what it sees as a sea of opportunity.

Photo of Douglas Chapman Douglas Chapman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence Procurement & Nuclear Disarmament)

Fifty per cent. of the fish processing industry relies on an EU workforce. What protection has the Secretary of State negotiated within the Cabinet to secure their future post-Brexit?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

Mr Carmichael has secured a very apposite debate on that matter this evening. I am very conscious of this issue, and I will be meeting the Home Secretary next week.

Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

The White Paper refers to the seafood trade as “vital” but, as with EU workers, no information is given about how it will be protected. This will be of concern to the live shellfish industry in Orkney and Shetland, which enjoys a frictionless customs passage in the EU at the moment. Will the Secretary of State guarantee that that frictionless passage will continue?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I am very conscious of the issues around not just catching and processing fish, but the markets, and those will be at the forefront of our thinking as we take forward leaving the EU.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch

Will my right hon. Friend tell me what benefits there will be from leaving the common fisheries policies for the whole of the United Kingdom?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

Mr Speaker, you have asked me to be brief, so I will refer my hon. Friend to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation document “Sea of Opportunity”.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

I do not know what the Secretary of State plans to be doing at 7 o’clock this evening, but I shall be here, along with the Immigration Minister, for the end-of-day Adjournment debate on the subject of visas for non-EEA nationals in the fishing industry. If he could fix that and get the industry the labour that it needs between now and 7 pm, we could both probably think of something else to be doing.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I am afraid that I cannot meet the right hon. Gentleman’s timescale but, like him and others, I wish England well in their game this evening. On the substantive issue that he raises, I would be very happy to speak to him directly ahead of my meeting with the Home Secretary.