All 3 Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale contributions to the Fisheries Act 2020

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Mon 22nd Jun 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords & Report stage
Wed 24th Jun 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report stage:Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wed 1st Jul 2020
Fisheries Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Monday 22nd June 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-R-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Report - (22 Jun 2020)
Lord Mackay of Clashfern Portrait Lord Mackay of Clashfern [V]
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My Lords, this amendment is of considerable importance. It seeks to set aside all the other objectives as less important, and it is apparent to me that at least some of them are essential. To set them aside would bring an imbalance to the situation, which is very strange—particularly since the objective is described as something that does “not compromise”. It is negative, it is to not do something; whereas an objective would normally be to achieve something rather than to prevent something happening.

I strongly support what has been said about the difficulties. I find it very hard to see how, with proposed new subsections (2)(b) and (2)(a) subject to the definition, you can have it as a prime objective.

I understood from the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, that his principal reason for this amendment was to avoid a situation in which economic matters might prejudice the longevity and sustainability of the stocks. However, the objective as stated by the Government is clear; under it, the long-term interest of the stocks must be preserved. That is surely the sort of flexibility we need in a proper environmental and sustainability project. You cannot be sure from day to day exactly what will happen. There are not many effective prophets in the world; it is therefore very difficult to proceed without a long-term view of what you are aiming at, and it seems that that will be prejudiced if you knock out the other objectives, which are also very important.

The amendment says “prime” objective; it does not say that it is the only objective. However, I do not know how a court could say whether or not a particular objective had been considered “prime”. As has been said, it generally means “first”, although it can have other meanings. It seems to me that, as long as the objective is mentioned and then taken account of alongside others, that is what should happen. I do not think that this amendment achieves the kind of result mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs. One of the mistakes of the common fisheries policy was too detailed and precise an attempt to control this aspect. The Government’s method of balancing this—the purpose of the clause as a whole—is excellent and would be damaged by this amendment.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the common fisheries policy was certainly flawed at times in its execution, but it had one advantage: the member states of the European Union were able to come together and resist, on occasion, short-term pressures on politicians in individual states to change fisheries policy. The collective agreement on fisheries policy ensured a strong element of long-termism in the decisions that were made. I worry that, as fisheries policy and regulation are returned to the United Kingdom, the pressure on politicians for short-term decision-making from those with a direct financial interest in the industry, when quotas and other decisions are reached, will still be there—as it is right now.

I have a vivid memory of the first year of devolution in 1999. An effigy of the then Fisheries Minister in the Scottish Government, Rhona Brankin MSP, was burned by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation at a demonstration because people were angry and wanted more short-term decision-making on quotas. That controversy, passion and anger impacted on individual Members of the Scottish Parliament and on the debate. In years to come, that impact was seen again and again with the sacrifice of the long term—I do not think it was ever sacrificed by Ministers but it was by individual politicians pushing Ministers to make more short-term decisions.

Contrary to what has been said by a number of other noble Lords, I think that being very clear that the sustainability objective is the prime objective is essential if the decisions are to be long-term. To have eight objectives constantly being balanced year after year without a prime objective would be an error. I therefore support Amendment 2 enthusiastically.

I support it for a second reason. The Government, like many other Governments around the world, are very keen to sign up to international goals and targets. In 2015, the then Conservative Government were supported by all parties in this Chamber when they agreed the United Nations global goals. Global goal 14 relates to the oceans and seas:

“Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.”


At first glance, that might seem to be about the marine ecosystem and pollution, which has been a big issue this past decade around the world, but the goal is also quite explicitly about sustainable fishing.

However, every time we have debated the global goals in your Lordships’ Chamber over the last five years, despite consistent support for them from three Prime Ministers from the same party—as recently as last month the current Prime Minister said in a statement that he hopes the UK will be able to move forward after the pandemic, charging towards achieving the global goals—the Government have never embraced the concept of the goals that they were central to agreeing in 2015: that they are universal and apply inside the UK as much as throughout the rest of the world.

If the sustainable development goals are to apply inside the UK as they do everywhere else, we need to start seeing that represented in the Government’s planning, budgeting and legislation inside the UK too. Therefore, starting a process of writing sustainability as a prime objective into more legislation in this country, and getting more long-term and less short-term decision making, would put us on a good course, and the Fisheries Bill is a very good place to start.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Report stage & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Report: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 24th June 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-R-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Report - (22 Jun 2020)
Lord Faulkner of Worcester Portrait The Deputy Speaker
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I call the noble Lord, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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I pay tribute to the Deputy Speaker for getting my title right; many before him have tried and failed.

I very much welcome this debate and the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Jones. I am minded to support it on the principle of the coastal town economies affected by the historical decline in activity around the fishing industry. This is a very important debate and amendment; the issue is absolutely central to wider economic regeneration, if that is to be one of the objectives of the repatriation of powers from Brussels. However, I have some concerns about the constitutional principles relating to this amendment and would be very grateful if my noble friend could perhaps clarify her thinking on these issues if she intends to push this amendment to a Division.

I am concerned that the amendment simply talks about “consulting” the devolved Governments—particularly the Scottish Government, who have clear legislative authority—rather than “agreeing” with them a national landing requirement. I am interested in knowing the thinking on having a UK-wide national landing requirement imposed from the centre rather than agreed by consensus across the four nations, and how that would work in practice.

As was mentioned regularly in your Lordships’ House on Monday afternoon, the Scottish Government have already indicated their support for a legislative consent Motion for the Bill as it currently stands. Notwithstanding that, I was willing to support amendments on Monday that might challenge that position. What consultations, if any, or thoughts might there be in relation to the position of the Scottish Parliament on a national landing requirement? I would be interested in knowing that in advance of the House dividing on the amendment, perhaps creating a situation where the legislative consent Motion is withheld because of this or other amendments.

Fisheries Bill [HL]

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 1st July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Fisheries Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 71-R-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Report - (22 Jun 2020)
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Portrait Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his very kind comments and for the courteous way in which he has engaged with us, and with our scrutiny of the Bill, throughout its passage. It has been extremely helpful to have the various technical briefings, both with civil servants and in writing; it certainly helped us to raise the level of debate.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, we very much hope that the Government will reflect on the amendments we have passed as the Bill goes to the Commons. They were made in good faith, with the interests of both the environment and our future fishing sector in mind. I very much hope that they are not simply returned to us but used to strengthen the Bill in the longer term.

In the meantime, I reiterate my thanks to the Minister and to all those on the Bill team, who have been very helpful as we have worked our way through the Bill.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I know that it is not necessarily normal to speak on Third Reading when there are no amendments, but given that our current procedures do not really allow for reflection on developments made during Report, this is perhaps my only opportunity to comment on those.

The passing of at least one amendment on Report highlighted the relationship between the legislation that we pass here and the legislative responsibilities of, in particular, the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. I hope that, in reflecting on the amendments that were carried, the Government will try to keep the spirit of those amendments—for example, I supported in principle the amendment on landing rights but did not vote for it because of the impingement on the devolution settlement, but its spirit was very positive for coastal towns and their future—and perhaps come back with their own amendments that deal with such issues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but do not impinge on the devolution settlement. I hope that the Government will reflect on that in the other place and, if amended, when the Bill comes back to the House of Lords.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson—and to the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, although there was an element of surprise to that, as we are now into the “Bill do now pass” stage.

I conclude with one key point: this has been a Bill on which Her Majesty’s Government have worked very closely with the devolved Administrations. We will continue to do so, for the interests of fishing communities across the United Kingdom. With those remarks, and with my thanks to all noble Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.