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My Lords, I will speak briefly in support of my noble friend Lady Jones of Whitchurch. She set out clearly in her speech the reasoning for the amendment, and I hope it will be supported by the Minister and the whole House.
It is frustrating that the debate on fishing, fisheries policy, the number of British and foreign-owned vessels and the fish landed has been so distorted in the media. It is a matter of much regret that the debate we have had in the UK over many years is not about the reality of the situation. As we know, our demand for fish such as cod and haddock in many cases far exceeds what we could catch in our own waters and much is imported, while much of the fish we catch in our waters is exported.
My noble friend set out the timeframe and made it very clear that this is a consultation that in itself should not cause the Government any particular problems. It is reasonable to ensure that every nation is consulted, along with the interested parties in the fishing industry. The consultation sets out the landing requirement of 65%, which I think is a reasonable figure.
My noble friend set out the case for how many of our coastal communities are very deprived. I know Grimsby very well—in a previous life I worked up in north Lincolnshire—and it is an area that suffers from poor health and poor job prospects and can be very depressed. Not only is fish landed there, but there is a huge food processing industry in the town. Grimsby would certainly benefit tremendously from my noble friend’s proposal here. It is very important that we should look at that.
It is also important that we recognise that when people in these communities voted to leave the European Union, they were voting also for a dividend. They hoped there would be better job prospects in their communities, more fish would be landed and people would prosper more. If we find that this is not the case in the years ahead, I think they will feel very betrayed. They will have voted for something and not seen the dividend from it. So I hope that if the Minister does not accept my noble friend’s amendment, he will carefully set out the reasons why and will make it clear what will be the dividend for these communities in years to come. We all know that they are depressed and have many challenges. If the explanation is not to my noble friend’s satisfaction, I hope that she will test the opinion of the House.