Leaving the EU: Agriculture and Fisheries Management

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th July 2018.

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Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall 12:00 am, 12th July 2018

What plans he has to reform agriculture and fisheries management when the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes

What plans he has to reform agriculture and fisheries management when the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Mr Speaker, thank you for your indulgence on the line call earlier in saying that the ball was in.

The Government’s consultation setting out the policy framework for agriculture in England after the UK leaves the EU closed on 8 May. All responses have been analysed and will be used to inform future policy. A report of the findings will be published in due course. Plans for the reform of fisheries management when the UK leaves the EU were set out in the “Sustainable fisheries for future generations” White Paper, which was published on 4 July.

Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall

What post-Brexit safeguards are being put in place to stop EU vessels registering in the UK simply to farm our waters of fish, as happened in the Factortame case, if there is to be a common rulebook in the agriculture and food sector?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hon. Lady raises some very important points. The first thing to say is that the Factortame case was a case that relied on the supremacy of the European Court of Justice. The supremacy of the European Court of Justice will end under the Government’s proposals for leaving the European Union; that is quite clear. The second thing is that the common rulebook on agri-food applies only to those sanitary and phytosanitary requirements that allow us frictionless access to the EU. That means that we will be outside the common agricultural policy and outside the common fisheries policy. It is also the case that economic link conditions can be reformed in such a way to meet the needs that she points out.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes

What consideration has been given to changing the fishing-quota-based system post Brexit to either a percentage-based system or a days-at-sea-based system, which would significantly help my fishermen in Newhaven?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend stands up very well for the fisher people of Newhaven. One thing we can do outside the common fisheries policy, as the fisheries White Paper spells out, is reallocate additional quota and we can also—and we propose to do this—pilot days-at-sea or effort-based methods of fisheries control. We hope to work with inshore fishermen such as those whom she represents so well.

Photo of Melanie Onn Melanie Onn Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Housing)

The truth is that the Government could be taking action today to support the UK’s catching sector. Instead, they are sending the most lucrative licences out of the UK. Why?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Well, we are in the European Union at the moment and governed by its rules and that is why the people of Grimsby voted to leave.

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

When will the farmers and crofters in my constituency know the shape and content of the UK-wide framework for the payment of agricultural support post Brexit?

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There are many important things for the farmers whom the right hon. Gentleman represents, but the details of how payments will be paid have been laid out by the Scottish Government, by the relevant Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, and I know that he is consulting on those proposals.

Photo of David Duguid David Duguid Conservative, Banff and Buchan

As my right hon. Friend will be profoundly aware, the EU Commission wishes to maintain guaranteed and continued access to UK waters even after we leave the EU and the common fisheries policy. I am pleased that, in the fisheries White Paper published last week and in discussions with fishermen during his visit to Peterhead in my constituency last week, he confirmed that that is not the position of this Government. Will he confirm again today that, as negotiations with the EU continue, this Government will not allow the Commission to conflate its access to British waters with our access to EU markets?

Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

It is a delight to see the DEFRA team still in their place, but may I offer a special welcome to the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Dr Coffey, who we have missed? We hope that she enjoys her time back as part of the team.

Will the Government tell us exactly who they can sign a free trade deal with, apart from the EU, whereby we do not degrade either environmental protection or animal welfare standards?