Amendment 94

Part of Fisheries Bill [HL] - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 9th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative 7:00 pm, 9th March 2020

My Lords, I apologise for my late arrival at the Committee. I believe my noble friend Lady McIntosh very ably excused me for being late and introduced the amendment in an earlier group—for which I am grateful. I was at a memorial service for a good friend, Professor Ian Calder, who was not only a distinguished forensic pathologist but also a great pleasure to be around.

Noble Lords who have put forward amendments in this group have got to the heart of the issue. I will particularly pick up from the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. One of the central processes following any international negotiations is the determination of fishing opportunities and their allocation. However, we suddenly lapse into a reference to Article 17 of the common fisheries policy. I thought we were escaping from that and setting out for ourselves.

Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, does us a service in her amendment by reminding us what is in the second sentence of Article 17, which otherwise is not referred to in the Bill. It would not have been onerous on the Government’s part for Clause 25 to replace Article 17. Then we could have seen the Government’s intentions. I am looking for the Bill to be very clear about the sequencing and the processes. If I understand correctly, and I may entirely be wrong because I think the Bill does not tell me, under Clause 23 the Government will make a determination following international obligations and must consult the devolved authorities, as Clause 24 tells us. Therefore, by extension, I assume, although it does not say so, that the determination under Clause 23 will include the allocation of fishing opportunities between the national fisheries authorities of the United Kingdom. Is that the case?

That having happened, Clause 25 then says by what process the national fisheries authorities should distribute those fishing opportunities. I gently say to the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, that I think there is a problem with Amendment 105 because although it refers to the United Kingdom allocating fishing opportunities between relevant national authorities and using transparent and objective criteria for that purpose, it does not remove Article 17 and, subsequently, refers to “English” fishing opportunities and “English” fisheries authorities. Unless I am very much mistaken, we are legislating here not only for England but on behalf of national fisheries authorities across the United Kingdom. Therefore, Clause 25 must say how the national fisheries authorities in the other parts of the United Kingdom should allocate their fishing opportunities. We need to know whether they have criteria distinct and different from those that will be applied by the English authorities. As drafted, I think they can use different criteria and the joint fisheries statements are likely to reflect different criteria where those apply.