New Clause 8 - Agency arrangements between sea fish licensing authorities

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray 7:45 pm, 13th October 2020

I congratulate Carla Lockhart on an excellent speech. She spoke on behalf of not just her constituency but fishermen across Northern Ireland. She put her case and their case across very well in the House tonight. I echo what my hon. Friend Scott Mann said. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be in the Chamber tonight, as we debate such an important piece of legislation for our own constituencies, the communities we represent, the whole of Scotland and the United Kingdom. They are looking to this Parliament to finally take back control over our fishing industry. It has for too long been dominated by decisions in Brussels, rather than here in our Parliament in the United Kingdom.

This is very much a framework Bill. It is supported by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and it allows us to do far more back here in the House of Commons or in the devolved Administrations. This legislation and the proposals put forward by this UK Conservative Government respect devolution. It looks for and enhances the sustainability in our seas, but also the sustainability in our fishing communities. For so long—decades—fishing communities in Moray such as Cullen, Findochty, Buckie and Burghead have suffered from a reduction in fishing right across the country through the straitjacket of the common fisheries policy. It has done so much harm to our industries, which were crucial to towns and villages right across the country. Many of those areas have been decimated, but now we can start to build back again: build back our fishing industry, our fleet, our crews and our catches, and what they mean to individual communities, what they meant decades ago, and what we can do to revitalise those areas when this industry gets back up and running because of the legislation that this UK Government and this Parliament are looking at, debating and taking through now.

Positive as I am about the Bill, I have to pause for a moment and stop that positivity to discuss the contribution from Deidre Brock. [Interruption.] She laughs about her contribution. I wish I could laugh at it. I really wish I could find it funny. I watched part of her speech on the screens outwith the Chamber and, when I was able to come in, I listened to it further. Watching it on television I thought it was bad enough, and then I looked in. Sometimes we say things in the Chamber and we reflect, because we are not reading a pre-prepared, scripted speech, that maybe we could have said something different and put it a better way. I watched the end of the hon. Lady’s speech and she was reading it out. I thought, “What kind of individual sits at a computer and types such a bitter, twisted and misleading statement, reviews it”—I presume she writes it herself, but I cannot guarantee that—“and stands up in the Chamber of the House of Commons and reads out such a poorly crafted argument that does not represent what Scotland is looking for from this Bill and does not represent what fishing communities right around the country are looking for from this Bill?”

I do not believe the hon. Lady’s speech represents the Scottish National party position on this. If you listen to her, there is nothing good in the Bill being brought forward by this Government, but her own party in the Scottish Parliament has given a legislative consent motion for it. So just once I would ask her to look beyond her blinkered vision of separatism, assuming everything done in this UK Parliament is bad, and consider for a moment that the 1 million people in Scotland who backed Brexit and the almost 50% of voters in my Moray constituency who backed Brexit, might actually look at this as an opportunity—an opportunity for this UK Government to take control back from the European Union over fishing and devolve further to our devolved Administrations right across the country. She would do herself, her party and Scottish politics in general a service if she looked at that and that argument from a more positive angle just once—to look at the positivity, rather than always the negativity.