Queen’s Speech - Debate (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:20 pm on 26th June 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Wilcox Baroness Wilcox Conservative 9:20 pm, 26th June 2017

My Lords, I know that at this stage there is no necessity for me to thank the two maiden speakers, but in this case I really would like to. I thought they were terribly good. I found the history of the mighty forebears of the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, fascinating. I come from Plymouth, and everything he talked about seemed to me to be maritime—cargoes at sea and so on. I look forward to him being with us and bringing in a bit of fresh air. My noble friend Lord Colgrain spoke so graciously about Lord Lyell, which was lovely, about his great-grandfather and about sitting on the steps of the Throne. It became terribly close and nice, and I look forward very much to hearing from both of them. I have added up that between them they have experience of the City, the City, rural and marine, so that will smarten things up a bit for a while.

I declare my interests—I have already put them on my list up there, but it is always with me—in fisheries and, of course, the National Lobster Hatchery. I am therefore delighted that there is to be a fisheries Bill. I was on the EU Select Committee, and when we put forward a report about fisheries we never dreamed for one moment that the Government would let us have a fisheries Bill. However, we have one now and I am thrilled. The Minister outlined how we would be in control of the UK’s EE zone. He talked about having a fairer share of the market, controlling quotas and not being bound by the EC fisheries policy. He talked about meeting other fleets fairly and about how coastal communities are to be renewed. I hope that will encourage modern apprenticeships, science and technology and bring our Government to a fisheries Bill that raises the morale of our island nation all over again.

Above all, I applaud the meaningful recognition of the need for enablement of the protection of our fish and our fishing fleet. We need now to put into place appropriate and effective protection. We need boats, and we need them built fast. I am sorry that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, is not here to speak, for he is an admiral and the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and is knowledgeable about the Fishery Protection Squadron, which thrives—I looked it up and read about it. I think we will do awfully well with this today. Can the Minister say whether the Government have already assessed the need for boats, and if so, when will they be ready to start with them? Have they ring-fenced the money to make sure that we can have them? We need to be ready to train the young people who will get their careers going in this area.

The Mediterranean has been fished out. Net sizes got smaller and smaller. The great fleets of France and the great Spanish armada have to come here, because the fish are available in our waters—our common-law system makes us very well behaved in not overdoing things. With the CFP removed, we will be able to make a policy of our own and police are own waters. We are blessed indeed with our inshore and deep water fish and shellfish, which provide demersal and pelagic fish, lobsters, crabs, oysters and shrimp—all those delicious things grow in our waters.

In the period from 2012 to 2014, EU fishing vessels, including ours, landed on average 1.1 million tonnes of fish and shellfish annually, caught within what will now constitute the UK EEZ. The report found that, on average, fishing vessels from EU countries other than from the United Kingdom landed 58% of that volume—equal to some £400 million, or 43%, of the value of all landings from the UK EEZ. Our country, out of the European Community, has a good, rich fishing future as long as we protect it.