New Clause 8 - Agency arrangements between sea fish licensing authorities

Part of Fisheries Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee, Chair, Justice Committee 9:00 pm, 13th October 2020

The short answer is that the right hon. Gentleman is right. It is not the right way to do this and we should think again. That is why I ask the Minister to reflect between now and the Bill going back to the other place. In the end we came to a pragmatic compromise on the UK internal markets Bill, and we set in place certain processes, triggers and thresholds for the exercise of that power, should it be needed in emergencies. I urge the Government, between now and the Bill returning to the other place, to think hard about doing something similar, so that we do not get into a situation where our friends in the Crown dependencies find themselves obliged perhaps to seek legal redress against our own Government and, if need be, to invoke their internal arrangements in relation to a legislative referral procedure. As the Minister knows, that can be embarked on and is not the ideal way to deal with this matter.

The concern is simply that the principle of consent is thoroughly enshrined in our relationship with the Crown dependencies. The Government have always sought to adhere to that, and the Minister and I know that we have always advocated that in this House. I do not yet see the grounds for introducing this provision, other than the possibility that it might be needed at some point—again, that sounds familiar in respect of the UK internal markets Bill. Let us find another solution in much the same way, where we consult with the Crown dependencies.

Without any consultation, it seems a needless provocation to attempt to place in the Bill, at a late stage, a provision that I hope will never be needed, but that goes against the express wishes of the legislatures of two parts of the British family. One of those legislatures had a general election only last week, and it now has a new legislature and set of Ministers, with a mandate to maintain their constitutional position. I urge the Minister to use her good influence and wise lawyerly skills to cause her colleagues to draw back a little, put some safeguards in the measure, continue talking to our friends in the Crown dependencies and find a means of accommodating the legitimate concerns of both sides, without taking what might be termed a draconian step.