Power of Northern Ireland department to impose charges

Fisheries Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 17 December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water) 5:15, 17 December 2018

I beg to move amendment 76, in schedule 5, page 44, line 9, leave out “negative” and insert “affirmative”.

Briefly, the amendment seeks to amend schedule 5 to provide the affirmative resolution in relation to powers given to the relevant Northern Ireland Department. I would like to invite the Minister to comment.

Importantly, in the absence of devolution to the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly at the moment, as the Assembly is not sitting, how can we ensure that there is sufficient scrutiny of those powers to the devolved Administration? In others circumstances, whether in Wales or Scotland, the powers would be given appropriate scrutiny in those devolved bodies.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The solution to the problem that the hon. Gentleman highlights is to get a political Administration back in Northern Ireland. We have that challenge on many fronts; this is one of the lesser challenges we face in the absence of a political Administration in Northern Ireland.

Our intention is that the Bill is built to last and that it will give us a basis and a framework with which to manage fisheries for at least the next few decades—I hope so, but obviously things change. The Bill is therefore built in the expectation that a political Administration will be back in place in Northern Ireland, as it should be. Indeed, I am sure we all hope that that might even happen before the provisions of the Bill commence.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the lack of an Administration in Northern Ireland. We all know that the solution is not to amend the Bill but to get an Administration back in Northern Ireland. Again, I point out paragraph 7 of the schedule, which gives a clear undertaking that there must be a consultation before any regulations can be introduced under the negative procedure, even for Northern Ireland.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the schedule be the Fifth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Briefly, the schedule allows the Northern Ireland Department to make regulations to enable it to charge for its exercising of relevant marine functions. After the regulations are laid, the Northern Ireland Department will be able to charge to ensure that the taxpayer does not have to foot the bill for expenses related to fisheries. Through the change, it is intended that the Government should neither profit at the expense of the consumer nor make a loss. It is a cost-recovery provision, which mirrors what is in the clauses that we discussed earlier for England.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 5 accordingly agreed to.

Clause 30