Power to make provision about fisheries, aquaculture etc

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

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 5:30, 17 December 2018

The clause will provide the Secretary of State with the powers necessary to manage our fisheries when we leave the EU and operate as an independent coastal state, enabling us to comply with the UK’s international obligations, manage our fisheries and keep pace with changes to EU law. When we leave the EU, it will be vital that the UK has measures in place to implement its international obligations and to move away from the common fisheries policy measures incorporated in retained EU law under the EU withdrawal Act.

Fisheries, and the management of the impact of fisheries on the marine environment, are dynamic, changing throughout the year. To manage fisheries effectively, we need delegated powers to be able to respond quickly to scientific advice. The CFP is due to be reviewed in the next few years. We need to ensure that the UK can introduce measures where appropriate for UK fisheries management. The clause confers regulatory updating powers on the Secretary of State. Equivalent powers are conferred on Welsh Ministers and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland; we understand that Scotland will make its own legislative arrangements in respect of the powers set out in the clause.

The powers in the clause are necessarily quite broad in scope. In recognition of that, we have introduced several constraints to limit the powers as far as possible. They must be exercised for a purpose listed in subsection (1); they can only be exercised for the matters listed in subsection (4); and they cannot create criminal offences punishable by imprisonment. I hope I have been able to explain the purpose behind the clause, to ensure that we can have a dynamic and clear ability expeditiously to make minor technical changes to the technical conservation regulations that are important in fisheries.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

Notwithstanding my earlier remarks, it is good to see the word “aquaculture” making it into the Government’s Bill at this point. I make fond mention of the occasion on which the Minister decided not to take amendments because of the mention of the aquatic environment. I am sure that aquaculture and the aquatic environment will make appearances later that will highlight the error of the Minister’s ways in his earlier remarks.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 31 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 32