Fisheries Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 21st November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Devolved Government Relations), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment and Rural Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 3:38 pm, 21st November 2018

I am always amused when Scottish Tories stand up to talk about divisiveness and accuse the SNP of being divisive about anything.

Returning to a more serious subject, in general the provisions in the Bill which relate to this area seem to fit those provisions, and, while I reserve the right to check that I am correct in thinking that, I welcome the drafting of the Bill in this respect.

I cannot offer the same welcome to some other aspects of the Bill, such as the setting of quotas. Quotas for Scotland’s waters should be set in Scotland, just as quotas for English waters should be set in England and Welsh waters in Wales. That is devolution. I am sure the Minister or any Government Members would not want the Scots and the Welsh to set quotas in Cornwall, so they will understand why Scots would not want our effort limits set here. The same applies to foreign vessels in our waters. We know that the Secretary of State has been a little free with his pledges of access to our waters, but it should more appropriately be the devolved Administrations that determine such things.

The principle upon which devolution was determined, the division of responsibilities and powers, was that anything which was not reserved was devolved. Power does not flow from here to there, but is, rather, only held here where it is written in the devolution legislation. Matters determined on an EU platform but not written into schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 are devolved and should go straight to Holyrood. They will go straight to Holyrood unless there is some power grab, some clawing back of responsibility, some deliberate diminution of Scotland’s Parliament. That would be unthinkable and we should do our level best to ensure that we do not legislate across that boundary.

Let us endeavour to ensure that we can modify the Bill appropriately so that we do not overcomplicate what should be a simple process. Let us make sure that the responsibilities and powers over our fishing waters and industries rest in the most appropriate places: the devolved Administrations for the most part, and this place, when there is no choice.