Sue Hayman contributions to the Fisheries Bill 2017-19

Wed 21st November 2018 Fisheries Bill (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
Money resolution: House of Commons
Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons
19 interactions (1,762 words)

Fisheries Bill

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
(Money resolution: House of Commons)
(Ways and Means resolution: House of Commons)
Sue Hayman Excerpts
Wednesday 21st November 2018

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Dame Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton) - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:06 p.m.

Order. I have now to announce the result of today’s deferred Divisions.

In respect of the question relating to taxation relief and international tax enforcement (Jersey), the Ayes were 302 and the Noes were 238, so the Question was agreed to.

In respect of the question relating to taxation relief and international tax enforcement (Isle of Man), the Ayes were 302 and the Noes were 238, so the Question was agreed to.

In respect of the question relating to taxation relief and international tax enforcement (Guernsey), the Ayes were 302 and the Noes were 238, so the Question was agreed to.

In respect of the question relating to the immigration health charge order, the Ayes were 300 and the Noes were 232, so the Question was agreed to.

[The Division lists are published at the end of today’s debates.]

Before I call the shadow Secretary of State to speak, let me say that I hope colleagues realise that there is a lot of pressure on time. A lot of people wish to speak so, apart from Front Benchers, obviously, I will be asking everyone else to try to keep their speeches below 10 minutes. I do not want to impose a time limit at this point, and that would, I hope, allow everybody to get in.

Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:07 p.m.

I join the Secretary of State in his words of support for all those who work in the fishing industry. It is important that we recognise them.

Amid all the ongoing chaos that we have seen over the Brexit negotiations, Ministers have consistently identified leaving the common fisheries policy as one of the few policy areas in which the Government’s deal can deliver. When the White Paper was published in July, the Secretary of State said:

“Outside the Common Fisheries Policy we can take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities.”

He is also on record as having said:

“The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want.”

I intend to set out why the Bill and the current approach to negotiations being pursued by the Government will not, in our view, “revitalise” our left-behind coastal towns, which have been hit hard by years of Tory austerity. I will also set out why, having heard the Secretary of State outline his position just now, I am even more convinced that only a Labour Government can secure the twin goals of a healthy marine environment and thriving coastal communities.

Mrs Sheryll Murray Portrait Mrs Sheryll Murray - Hansard

Will the hon. Lady explain to me why my late husband suffered financially, quite considerably, for 12 years under a Labour Government, but she is now blaming Conservative austerity? I have witnessed it myself. Will she explain why she has not admitted that and apologised for it?

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:09 p.m.

We know that coastal communities have suffered from austerity, and I will be talking about that further. However, I do not think it is appropriate to talk about individual cases.

However, having said what I have just said, we do not oppose the Bill at this stage, as it has turned out to be a mostly enabling Bill for making future decisions. It is clear that the Government have some way to go before we can all be satisfied with what is before us today. I hope that Ministers will reconsider parts of this legislation so that we can reach a consensus on the direction of travel. We intend to bring forward a number of key amendments in Committee to make those improvements.

In addition to looking at quotas, the Secretary of State also talked about the need to revitalise coastal communities, which have been badly let down by successive Tory Governments and the eight years of austerity. I represent a coastal community myself and have seen that damage at first hand. Those communities have been starved of investment. They have reduced services due to local government cuts, lower wages and stalled economies. If we look at the 98 local authorities that are on the coast, 85% of them have pay levels below the UK’s average, and, to date, the Government have done nothing to address that. Labour believes that well-managed fisheries and sustainable fishing practices can help reinvigorate many of these communities. This is a unique opportunity, as we have heard from the Secretary of State, to transform the way that we manage our fisheries to improve lives by driving economic prosperity, tourism and environmental benefits to our beautiful and unique British coastal areas.

However, if we look at the current distribution of quotas, it is clear that the system is not working in a fair or equitable way. According to research by Greenpeace, more than a quarter of the UK’s fishing quota is owned or controlled by just five families on the rich list of The Sunday Times. We are well-accustomed to hearing about taking our fair share of quota at the European level, but many in our coastal towns and smaller fleet want to know when they will get their fair share of the existing national quota.

The Secretary of State has talked about the unfairness in quotas, but, in terms of the Bill in front of us today, the clear lack of proposals to redistribute existing and future quota can be seen only as an endorsement of the current unfair system. Labour will bring in amendments to improve that situation. Given what the Secretary of State said earlier, will he support us in those amendments?

Recreational fishing also has an important role to play in the development of our coastal towns. The Angling Trust believes that many towns could prosper by attracting anglers who would travel right across the UK and from overseas to take advantage of top-class angling in healthy, well-managed waters.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:13 p.m.

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. She talks about quotas and about who holds quotas. I have actually written to the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee for an inquiry into who holds quotas, where they got the quota from and where a quota might be better distributed, including the idea of community quotas and the geographical share of quotas. Is she supportive of such an idea?

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:13 p.m.

We are looking for the Government to address the historic imbalance and inequality in the fishing industry that these quotas show. The companies that we have looked at have benefited from a system that has led to a long-term consolidation of quota into the hands of a very few operators. We are very keen to look at ways in which that can be changed.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:14 p.m.

May I take my hon. Friend back to the point that she was making about the impact of austerity on coastal communities? Does she not accept that, given the success of co-operatives, there might be an opportunity, through this Bill, to promote the co-operative sector in the fishing industry a little bit more, not least because one of the great things about co-operatives is that the surplus they generate stays within the local community?

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:14 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. We would certainly support increasing co-operatives. I understand that there is an opportunity to double the number of co-operatives if we go about it in the right way. That was an incredibly important point.

Dr Philippa Whitford Portrait Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP) - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:15 p.m.

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. Obviously, she is talking about coastal communities. Does she recognise—unfortunately, I was unable to make this point with the Secretary of State—that processors will not have a bonanza? If they are trapped having to pay 11% to 12% to land filleted and processed fish in Europe, but can land their fish directly to fish processors in Poland, harbours, markets, ice producers and processors will crumble. Certainly, the fishing associations on my coast do not support the Scottish Fishing Federation. The Clyde Fishermen’s Association and the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation are not happy with this notion that all Scottish fishermen support Brexit—they do not.

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:15 p.m.

Yes, that is a very important point about processors. I have a processor in my own constituency, so I fully understand the hon. Lady’s concerns. We want to see more British fish landed in British ports.

Sir Charles Walker Portrait Mr Charles Walker - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:16 p.m.

The hon. Lady was starting to make a good case for recreational angling before she was dragged away by colleagues who wanted to talk about commercial landings. Recreational angling accounts for about £2 billion into the economy, whereas commercial fishing accounts for about £200 million. If we want to maximise the UK’s fish stocks, as I am sure that you do, Madam Deputy Speaker, we need to focus on recreational angling and the value of recreational angling, and we need to have fish species that are largely kept back for recreational anglers.

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:16 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that very well-made point. Yes, I support exactly what he is saying. We know that the Secretary of State also recognised in his speech the importance of recreational angling. If we are to achieve the goals that we are talking about, can the Secretary of State confirm that he intends to bring forward future measures to support recreational sea angling? If so, can he provide us with some details on those plans today?

Ministers, when questioned about their support for our smaller-scale fishing communities, often point to the Coastal Communities Fund. Members may be interested to know that, in response to a parliamentary question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Holly Lynch), it was revealed that only about 6% of the fund has been awarded to the fishing sector to date. If the Government really think that fishing is the lifeblood of coastal communities, why do they not back this up with the funding that the industry so desperately needs?

Dr Matthew Offord Portrait Dr Matthew Offord (Hendon) (Con) - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:18 p.m.

I am listening to the hon. Lady with great interest, but I am finding it very difficult to reconcile the issue of fishing generally with the demise of coastal communities. Does she not agree that, just as in rural areas, it is not just the issues surrounding agriculture and fishing that contribute to a decline in coastal communities; it is tourism, lack of a manufacturing base and the brain drain? When we look in her own constituency, for example, any increase in the fishing industry will not help the village of Flimby, as it needs a greater package than just additional resources for the fishing industry, which she seems to be advocating.

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:18 p.m.

Well, of course, any kind of regeneration needs to cover a number of different areas, but we know that fishing would regenerate many, many coastal communities if we were able to land more fish into British ports and if we were able to change quotas. The Secretary of State has said that we have a huge opportunity here to regenerate our coastal communities through investing in fishing, but, obviously, we must have other funding as well, which is why I mentioned earlier the importance of tourism.

Let me turn now to trade. I understand that around 80% of what we catch, we export, and that 70% of the fish that we eat, we import, yet in the Bill there is no mention of trade, customs or tariffs. Labour’s commitment to membership of a customs union would reassure both processors and catchers that they could invest in their industry safe in the knowledge that they would have tariff-free access to the European markets.

I want to talk briefly about the marine environment. Labour welcomes the language in the Bill about reducing the environmental impacts of fishing, but the Bill provides only a vague future framework and does little to explain exactly what this would look like.

Kate Hoey Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:20 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the marine environment. She knows that the EU banned electric pulse fishing and then gave a 10-year derogation for Dutch boats—I think, 100 of them—to carry on with it. This really is ruining the ecosystem and the Bill does not ban it. Is this something that my hon. Friend might seek to put into the Bill in Committee?

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:20 p.m.

Yes, my hon. Friend makes an excellent point. I can confirm that we will absolutely look at this matter in Committee.

We are asking for more detail about discard charges as well as the environmental and sustainability objectives around maximum sustainable yield fisheries management. Labour would go further on environmental protections than the provisions outlined in the Bill, and would categorically oppose any move away from a science-led, ecosystems-based approach. As my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Owen Smith) mentioned, there is only a vague reference to MSY in the Bill, and no clear roadmap as to when and how this can be achieved. We would like to know whether Ministers are still committed to it as we leave the EU. We believe that stocks should at least meet this standard by 2020 and will seek to bring that into the Bill if the Government do not.

Will the Secretary of State respond to the concerns of environmental groups such as Sustain that are worried that the Bill’s objective to gradually eliminate discards is far weaker and slower than the EU’s commitment to end discarding completely within a set deadline? This is an important point.

Sir John Hayes Portrait Mr John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings) (Con) - Hansard

I think it would be reassuring to the House to know that the Opposition share our disdain for the common fisheries policy, which has allowed foreign potentates to devise a policy, paradoxically, that is simultaneously bad for fishermen and bad for fish. The Secretary of State set out his view about how we can improve on that. Presumably Labour would want to join us in condemning the CFP.

Sue Hayman Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:22 p.m.

I am trying to make it clear that we are not opposing the Bill; we really do want to work with the Government to improve it and make it better for both the fishing industry and coastal communities.

Importantly, we have been told that environmental standards are not going to be weakened after Brexit. However, we are concerned that the Bill could allow the UK to fall behind where we would be as a member of the EU, so we want to ensure that this is tightened up and clear. On the international level, we would boost support for an ambitious new UN treaty for the high seas. The Government must stand up for our sea life by leading efforts for large-scale international protection—a goal that has been limited to date by the ineffectiveness of the existing regulatory framework. British diplomacy is vital to fill this gap, and I hope that Ministers are taking this very seriously.

As we leave the EU, it is right that we put in place the framework to ensure that any deal on fishing can be implemented but, as have I said, we have concerns that the Bill falls short in a number of areas. There is no strategy to redistribute our existing quota so that the small-scale, often family-owned, boats can get a fairer slice of the pie. There is no provision for dealing with future trade uncertainty, nor any mention of customs or border arrangements. And despite the Secretary of State’s assurances, the Bill does not set out the full details as to how we will manage our seas more responsibly. Without sustainable management of operations there will be no fish and no fishing industry, so it is disappointing there is no commitment to getting stocks to a maximum sustainable yield by 2020.

What we are discussing today is fundamental to the future of British fishing, and it is crucial that we get the Bill right. I hope that the Secretary of State will take on board the real concerns that I have outlined. Earlier he mentioned the opportunity ahead of us to refine and improve the Bill. I would ask that he works constructively with the Opposition to make those improvements.

Neil Parish Portrait Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 3:24 p.m.

It is a great pleasure to speak in this fishing debate, and I very much welcomed the Secretary of State’s speech. On this grey November day in this House, where we seem to have little to cheer us up at the moment, fishing is one of the things that we can cheer ourselves up with, because we now have the opportunity to get more fish, for our fishermen and under-10 metre fleet to have more quota, and for anglers to access more fish, which is another great economic opportunity. There will also be more fish for our processors to process.

The whole thing about bringing back control of our fishing is that we can actually put right the wrongs that happened about 40 years ago. There is no doubt—those of us in and around coastal constituencies know this full well—that if anybody suffered when we went into the then Common Market, it was our fishing industry. As we consider the Fisheries Bill, let us make sure that we right those wrongs and get our stocks back, and ensure that those who fish in our waters—if we allow them to do so—fish under our rules and regulations. Let us ensure that we have a sustainable fishing policy.

I very much welcome the fact that the fisheries White Paper says:

“Fisheries will be a separate strand of our future relationship with the EU.”

For far too long our fisheries have been controlled by the EU under the CFP, and for too long our fishermen have been managed as a single EU exclusive economic zone. The Bill gives us the framework to take control of our waters, to come out of the CFP and to become an independent coastal state. The UK alone will be responsible for our exclusive economic zone of some 200 miles or the median line. Now we need to make sure that the Bill works. However, it can be improved, and I welcome the fact that the Labour party is taking a positive view on the Bill, because it always helps when there is not too much of a great political divide across the House.

It is not clear to me what practical arrangements the Government have made for enforcement when foreign fishing boats have access to our waters, because there is no doubt—under a no-deal Brexit, or any other Brexit that we achieve—that we will need to ensure that we have control of our waters. We also have to ensure that the cameras and systems on the boats that monitor fishing are working and not being switched off. Those systems not only cover quantities of fish and who is fishing, but work very well as far as discards are concerned. If ever there was a benefit of coming out of the CFP, is it with regards to discards. Not only is it a huge waste of resource to throw back into the sea good, healthy fish, most of which will die and probably putrefy the sea bed, but it is important that we land all the fish that are caught, as that means that we can have a proper monitor of what is in the sea and what is being caught so that we know that the science is absolutely right. Those of us who have been involved in fishing for many years, as many Members have, will find that while the scientists say one thing, the fishermen will tell us that they could walk to America on the back of cod because there are so many in the sea. There may be a slight exaggeration, but I think that Members get the gist of my argument.