Fisheries Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:03 pm on 21st November 2018.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 5:03 pm, 21st November 2018

The hon. Gentleman will have heard my comments in March when the agreement was concluded. It was apparent then that the Government—certainly the then Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and probably the Prime Minister—did not understand its importance. I hope that subsequent events have persuaded them of its importance, and that we will not see any backsliding in the future, because they would pay a heavy political price for that.

This is not a fanciful or insubstantial concern. The Minister will know that the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea advice in relation to North sea cod will be looking at substantial reductions again this year. I hope we are not back to the situation in which we found ourselves at the turn of the century, but it is not impossible that we will be. The truth of the matter is that it was almost impossible at that point, with our Ministers sitting at the table, to make our voice heard and to get the deal that was needed. Without anybody at the table, I have to say that I think it will be impossible. The price for that failure to deliver during the transitional arrangements stands to be paid by our fishing fleets.