European Union (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 4th June 2008.

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Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Government Whip, Government Whip 5:45 pm, 4th June 2008

My Lords, I have already considered that. There have been various comments made by various people both at home and abroad to the Chancellor's letter. I do not have them all here today. I have to move on.

The common fisheries policy was debated at length in Committee and I am grateful to noble Lords who have raised it today. We want to see the principles governing the future management of EU fisheries, a more stable regulatory framework and a more regional approach to decision-making. In Committee, the noble Duke praised the work and the setting up of those regional area committees, and better stakeholder involvement. No one would say that the common fisheries policy is working as we want it to. There were reforms in 2002. We strongly believe that if it were to be scrapped it would need to be replaced by something similar. But a lot of work needs to go on and a lot of reform needs to take place. We are grateful for the contribution made by the noble Earl in this debate. He referred particularly to discards, which we debated last time and no doubt we will debate many times. We are determined to make sure that the discard numbers come down, although it will be a difficult and complicated thing to do.

Reform is the order of the day for the common fisheries policy. It is being pursued in that field and in the common agricultural policy. The Government are keeping Parliament updated principally through the provision of Explanatory Memoranda on legislative proposals, but also via regular debates in the House on fisheries issues and ministerial Statements on the prospects for and outcome of agriculture and fisheries councils. Ministers have given evidence before parliamentary committees on some of the more detailed aspects of the reform programme. My noble friend Lord Sewel's European Committee is conducting an inquiry into common fisheries policy reform and, as I understand it, intends to produce a report before the summer. That will be an important report, which will offer a further opportunity for a debate on the Floor of this House.

On the basis of these existing opportunities that apply in both Houses of Parliament, there is no need for a further report. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, knows that very well and that this proposal for a further report is merely a peg on which to hang this debate.