New Clause 8 - Agency arrangements between sea fish licensing authorities

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 7:15 pm, 13th October 2020

There will be no provision in licensing that will deal with the dangerous and reckless conduct that we have seen west of Shetland, and that we will see in other territorial waters, I think, in the next few months as the political heat is turned up in relation to fishing and the changes that are going to come in on 1 January.

I want to make a couple of points before dealing in detail with the reason why new clauses 11 and/or 12 are necessary. The first is on Government amendment 36, which I raised with the Minister in her opening comments. I understand the reasons why a lot of late Government amendments to the Bill have come and I have sympathy with them, knowing the to and fro that there has been between the Minister’s Department and the various devolved Administrations, but the Bill is not new. We had the Bill go through all its stages in this House—certainly the Public Bill Committee—once already. It started then in the other place and it has been through Committee here, so introducing at this late stage—when, frankly, there is little opportunity for meaningful scrutiny of it—a provision that strikes at a fairly important constitutional point in relation to the Channel Islands as dependent territories requires further explanation from the Minister.

Essentially, the difficulty is that saying that this is just a backstop power is one thing, but the Government giving themselves a backstop power that can be used unilaterally—possibly without any consultation, although I accept that that is unlikely—takes us down a very difficult and dangerous constitutional path. I think that this requires greater scrutiny than this House is able to give it today, because once I have given way to Sir Robert Neill, I will not say much more about it.