Previous Section Home Page

The Solicitor-General : I refer to the requirements in the 1988 Act as to residence and domicile of owners, charterers, managers and operators of fishing vessels seeking to register as British fishing vessels ; and to the requirement that such vessels should genuinely be managed and their operations genuinely--

Mr. Salmond rose --

Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. The Solicitor-General has made it quite clear that he does not wish to give way.

The Solicitor-General : Their operations should genuinely be managed --

Mr. Salmond rose --

Madam Deputy Speaker : Order.

The Solicitor-General : I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment when he has listened. Vessels should genuinely be managed, and their operations should genuinely be directed and controlled within the United Kingdom.

When this matter was argued, and I was before Judge Due three or four weeks ago, the Commission said that only 10 or 12 vessels would be affected. It remains to be seen. The matter will be looked at carefully and quasi- judicially by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. The Commission's estimate may well be right. That was its estimate of the effect of the order. The background is that between 100 and 150 vessels, mostly of Spanish origin, had hitherto been fishing.

Mr. Salmond : I wish that the Solicitor-General had done me the courtesy of listening to my argument or even reading the reports of the Standing Committee. The amendments that I moved in Committee referred to the crew of fishing vessels, not owners or directors. There is no such stipulation in the legislation. Why does he not make one rather than bringing this ridiculous order before the House?

The Solicitor-General : I acquit the hon. Gentleman of not knowing everything about this case. There are residential qualifications in relation to important licensing conditions which are the subject of further litigation.

This issue has been bedevilled for years by litigation involving fishing interests that are trying to get the profitable opportunities of fishing against United Kingdom quotas. At every stage, the United Kingdom Government are defending and, where appropriate, prosecuting appropriate litigation to look after our interests, and will continue to do so.

Column 1018

Mr. Prescott : Several hon. Members believe that we are amending legislation, not suspending it. If the Solicitor-General is right, and we are suspending, and the court eventually rejects the interim decision and upholds our stance, will he have to come back to the House to amend the legislation again?

The Solicitor-General : I know that there are some who believe that we are amending rather than suspending, but that is a distinction without a difference. We are putting into suspension the nationality requirements, pending the judgment of the court. If the court's judgment were in our favour in every respect except in respect of the matters covered by the order, I think that we would still have to come back--this shows why it is suspending--because the purpose of this order runs only until there is final judgment in this case, just as the interim order of the court runs only to final judgment. It is a very technical point.

Mr. Menzies Campbell rose--

The Solicitor-General : I apologise to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I shall not give way.

I take the question, "Why should the House not vote against the order?" on the chin. It is Britain's duty to obey the law of the European Community.

Mr. Teddy Taylor : It is the duty of all countries.

The Solicitor-General : Whatever the outcome of the case may be, and however vigorously and effectively we argue the United Kingdom's case--and we shall argue it vigorously and effectively--before the European Court of Justice and the various courts in Britain to which, in one guise or another, the case will return, it is always our duty to obey orders, including the interim orders of the European Court. It is in fulfilment of that duty, and that duty alone, that the interim order of the European Court of Justice is to be given effect by the order. There are powerful and compelling reasons why we should fulfil that duty and I commend the order to the House.

Question put :--

The House divided : Ayes 68, Noes 21.

Division No. 353] [3.49 am


Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Ashby, David

Batiste, Spencer

Bellingham, Henry

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Boswell, Tim

Bowis, John

Brazier, Julian

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cran, James

Curry, David

Dorrell, Stephen

Durant, Tony

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Glyn, Dr Alan

Goodlad, Alastair

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Hague, William

Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)

Hanley, Jeremy

Harris, David

Hayward, Robert

Heathcoat-Amory, David

Hind, Kenneth

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)

Lang, Ian

Lord, Michael

Lyell, Sir Nicholas

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

Mans, Keith

Martin, David (Portsmouth S)

Mills, Iain

Nicholls, Patrick

Norris, Steve

Patnick, Irvine

Column 1019

Redwood, John

Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)

Speller, Tony

Stevens, Lewis

Summerson, Hugo

Taylor, John M (Solihull)

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thorne, Neil

Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)

Twinn, Dr Ian

Waddington, Rt Hon David

Wheeler, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wood, Timothy

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Greg Knight and

Mr. Tom Sackville.


Aitken, Jonathan

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Carttiss, Michael

Cryer, Bob

Dixon, Don

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Janman, Tim

Jessel, Toby

Kirkwood, Archy

Nellist, Dave

Prescott, John

Salmond, Alex

Skinner, Dennis

Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)

Wallace, James

Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)

Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)

Wilson, Brian

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Frank Haynes and

Mr. Calum Macdonald.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the draft Merchant Shipping Act 1988 (Amendment) Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 17th October, be approved.

Next Section

  Home Page