Column 1216substantial strategy for the industry. It is not a strategy in itself. It will not meet even the immediate conservation targets. It will not secure long-term targets without even more vigorous MAGP requirements being set, perhaps in the comparatively near future. It will not offset the failure to invest structural funds-- European funds, not merely British funds--in the modernisation of our fleet. It will not put the United Kingdom fleet on an even keel to meet new competition.
In reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland, the Minister said :
"Currently we are moving towards our targets via decommissioning and licence penalties. We are also having discussions with the Commission on the possible contribution to effort reduction from technical conservation measures."--[ Official Report , 7 July 1994 ; Vol. 246, c. 280-81. ]
Significantly, the Government are not having discussions with the industry on the substance of the proposals. That is regrettable. The Minister referred in glowing terms to Fishing News , which we all read with great interest. I shall simply add an extra paragraph from its leader on the subject of the decommissioning scheme. It says :
"The inescapable conclusion is that the government is bereft of ideas beyond that of squeezing large chunks of the Industry into bankruptcy, and that it hopes (knows perhaps ?) that forthcoming EU measures will do its dirty work for it."
At present, there is no strategy for fishing. There is no strategy to meet the conservation targets. There are real fears of effort limitation by the back door. Whatever is the maritime equivalent of an uneven playing field is what we now have in the fishing industry, and we will suffer from it.
Mr. John D. Taylor (Strangford) : This is not the occasion for a wide-ranging speech on the fishing industry in the United Kingdom, so I shall make three brief points on behalf of the fishing industry in Northern Ireland.
First, I welcome the measures proposed by the Minister. As he well knows, there was a good uptake in the first year of the decommissioning scheme in Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel in Northern Ireland. I must quickly add that I fear that the uptake on this occasion will not be so good because, obviously, those who were in dire circumstances were keen to take advantage of the scheme in the first year, whereas there are no people in such dire circumstances now, so there is a serious possibility that less interest will be shown in it.
Secondly, there is a relaxed attitude in Portavogie and our other fishing ports in Northern Ireland about the arrangements for Spain and Portugal. The Minister will understand that. The fishermen in Northern Ireland do not have the anxiety that other fishermen in the United Kingdom will understandably have.
Thirdly, while we do not have the details of the news from Brussels tonight, none the less we have some information which one feels is accurate and which, if it is accurate, is most alarming for the United Kingdom fishing industry in the Irish sea. As I understand it, the Commission proposes that there should be a restriction within the Irish sea of 8,270 days at sea for the entire United Kingdom fishing fleet. In practical terms, that would mean that only about 80 United Kingdom fishing vessels will be allowed to fish in the Irish sea. At present, we have 400 United Kingdom vessels in the Irish sea, 240 of which come from Northern Ireland. If the
Column 1217proposal advances to a conclusion, the number of United Kingdom vessels will be reduced from 400 to only 80. That would be disastrous for Northern Ireland, where 2,000 people are employed in the fishing industry in the rural parts of County Down alone.
Mr. Jack : It is early days, but I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the Commission has confirmed that its effort control proposals under the permit scheme and the arrangements to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded will not prevent quotas from being taken. We must examine the detail, but I think that that reassurance is important to fishermen, who are anxious to know whether they can prosecute the stocks to which they are entitled.
Mr. Taylor : I very much welcome that intervention. I shall conclude on this subject. As the Minister said, there is understandable anxiety about the reports which have come out in the first 24 hours. They must be clarified and explained--not that I like using the word "clarification" in Northern Irish politics these days.
Today's news has caused alarm and concern within the fleet based in Portavogie. The resentment--I ask the Minister to pay attention to this point--is made worse by the further news that, whereas the United Kingdom fleet in the Irish sea is being given only 8,270 days at sea, the southern Irish fleet is being given more than 11,000 days. That distortion in favour of the southern Irish fleet seems to arise from the exercise of the Hague preference based on cod quotas. Effectively, the Republic of Ireland, with only 120 boats in the Irish sea, gets 11,000 days at sea, whereas the United Kingdom, with 400 vessels in the Irish sea, gets only 8,270 days. The fishermen do not understand that. I hope that the Minister will carry out his promise to meet the Northern Ireland fishing industry. Certainly, I will be keen to go with him, and hopefully support him, in getting the proposals amended in Brussels.
Mr. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby) : The Minister gave his usual energetic and ebullient display--a characteristic for which he is becoming known in the industry--of making something out of nothing. The fact is that our fishing industry is in decline and severe financial difficulties, its market receipts are not at a level to keep it profitable, investment is being frightened away and the Minister is hanging all sorts of threats over it, such as Spanish accession and all the long-term possibilities of restriction of effort. That is the state of the industry on one side.
On the other side, frankly, the Government do not have a policy on fishing. The policy they had, to which they attached all the importance they could, has effectively been shot from under them, and they have not developed a new policy to replace it. It is desperately urgent that the Government develop a policy on fishing to give the industry the confidence it needs to sustain itself through to the better future which must lie ahead, despite the effective limitation of effort.
The problem is that the Government's policy was a twin track one. The first part of the policy was decommissioning--the scheme is part of that policy. However, it was too
Column 1218little, too late. The scheme was not adequate, and it came in much too late. To reduce the effort, the decommissioning scheme was coupled with the days-at-sea limitation, on which the Government set their heart and to which they devoted all their efforts. That is the second half of the policy. Effectively, it has been shot from under them. They will not concede that the policy is dead. They want to hang on to a policy which cannot work. Even if the European Court rules in their favour, the policy cannot come in for well over a year-- certainly not early enough to have any substantial effect on the effort.
As I told the Minister yesterday, the Government's days-at-sea policy is essentially necrophilia--the more dead it is, the more they love it. They must admit that it is a goner. It will not work. It should never have been introduced, because it is a monstrous measure--it is unfair and unreasonable. Only officials in their ivory towers apportioning catches as though they could deal with things in that sort of rational way could develop it. The Minister should not have introduced the policy, and he should now concede that it is dead.
When the Minister concedes that the policy is dead, it will become clear that the present decommissioning scheme is too small ; it must be increased. The National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations has suggested £40 million as a decommissioning scheme. I would put the figure higher. It is clear that the thinking behind the Commission's previous report is that we must have a bigger decommissioning scheme.
It is wrong for the Minister to quibble about where Labour would get the money to pay for the scheme. Most of the money comes from Europe in any case. If we recognise that the days-at-sea limitation, with all the attendant framework of regulation and supervision, is going, that would save about £6 million to £7 million--I do not know the exact figure. The Minister could take the first step by bringing forward all the decommissioning money in one splurge to put some money into the industry, because that is what it desperately needs. Other European countries are in a much healthier position, vis-a-vis their multi-annual guidance programme targets, simply because they brought forward and implemented earlier bigger and better decommissioning schemes, coupled with rational restructuring of the industry.
Between 1987 and 1992, £250 million of European funds, to which we contributed, were spent by all the other countries on decommissioning their vessels. That is why they are in a much better position than we are. That is why we must go down the road they have shown us, which the Minister, or his predecessors in the Department, should have taken some years ago.
Now, we have been forced down it and the Minister should say, "I'm sorry, we got it wrong. We tried the twin-track approach. One track won't work and we must therefore place more emphasis on the decommissioning scheme." As the Minister's hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) suggested, the Minister should drop the policy. He should withdraw it. Let us have a reconciliation with the industry, which will be adamantly opposed to it, even if the policy ever comes back.
The Government should introduce a decommissioning scheme. They should couple it with a restructuring plan to bring finance for new building into the industry. We have an aging fleet. Some vessels are 25 or 30 years old and the
Column 1219industry desperately needs new vessels, as does the construction side of the industry, which will be decimated if the present lack of building continues.
The Minister should stop the slump--stop foreign flag ships buying licences and their use by other nations. He should show some confidence in the industry, so that it can get other outside finance. The Minister should recognise that there must be new build, which need not necessarily increase the effort as it can be carefully structured so as to ensure that it does not do so. He should couple that with a proper decommissioning scheme.
The Minister should go ahead with the technical conservation measures suggested to him by the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations. There was some good cheer yesterday. He said that he accepted those recommendations, which cheered me up, and that he was putting them to the Commission, which is very good. It is a learning process, and I hope that it will continue, as it is so welcome. We must approach the conservation of stocks through such effective technical measures, as it is much the best way to do so.
If the Minister does all those things, will we be able to reduce effort on the scale that is necessary ? We need a 19 per cent. reduction. With decommissioning, we have so far achieved 2.2 per cent. If we spend all the money, it will probably result in a 6 per cent. reduction in effort. What will the conservation measures achieve--a 3 or 4 per cent. reduction ? Perhaps the Minister can give us an estimate. Decommissioning and conservation will together add up to a 10 per cent. reduction in effort, which leaves 9 per cent. of the reduction that we must achieve by December 1996 outstanding. That is a 9 per cent. gap--half the reduction.
I fear that the Government are placing their hopes on a Europewide reduction of effort through a limitation on days at sea. Perhaps I have too suspicious a mind, but Ministers could be thinking that there will be such a limitation and that it will save their bacon. That will save them from having to introduce an unpopular measure. They might think,"We'll get away with reducing effort in that way." The proposals for the alternative for the Irish box seem to envisage some limitation on days at sea on that basis, which is what makes me think that those proposals might be the thin end of the wedge for a European scheme. If that is the Minister's view, I hope that he will come clean.
A European limitation of effort will hit this country disproportionately hard. Our deficit is greater than that of the other fishing nations. If the European Community, rather than the Government, introduce such a scheme, it will bear most heavily on this country. Secondly, a Europewide limitation on days at sea will reduce British effort to allow Spanish effort in. We shall all be making some sacrifices as a consequence of the decision to allow the Spanish full accession to the common fisheries policy five years early.
As we have heard in every speech in this debate, hon. Members do not trust the regimes in other European countries to administer restrictions. There is a difficulty in Spain, because of the problem of Basque separatism. The Spanish central Government dare not bear down too heavily on the regional administration, which is financing much reconstruction.
A European days-at-sea limitation will not work, and it will not save the Minister's bacon. He has to do something. He must produce a British national policy along the lines I have suggested. He was wrong to mutter as he did in his speech that, unless the industry behaves responsibly, the Government will have to return to limitation of effort.
Having been defeated on his original policy, it is his responsibility to go back to the industry and say, "We want to work out a national plan for fishing with you." He should tell the industry that the Government want to develop a new industry, which can inherit the future, and that they want to work together to restructure the industry to ensure its survival as an effective, efficient and well-organised fishing force.
The fishing industry is a critical industry in Scotland in particular, and it is important in my constituency. Debates on the fishing industry seem, however, consistently to be downgraded. I do not mean any criticism of the important statement that had to be made earlier today. Obviously, defence is also a major issue in my constituency and in Scotland.
There is a feeling, however, that we debate the fishing industry either late at night or in short debates. The Government must study our mechanisms for considering the issue, especially since the common fisheries policy is of great importance as we look forward from the Maastricht developments to the accession of four additional states, although not all of those will be fishing nations.
We are working in a policy vacuum. The Minister mentioned the vagueness of the present proposals, said that we are moving forward to a Fisheries Council, said that he would then report back, and so forth. That leaves the industry in a state of uncertainty. If we are to consider the framework regulations that the Commission is developing in Brussels, we need clear Government guidance on how they will relate those regulations back to the industry and to its representatives in this House--Members with maritime
constituencies--and how they will ensure that clear guidance is given on how any agreement reached will be monitored, controlled and honoured.
The key issue and centrepiece of the whole debate is a policy on fishing effort. Decommissioning is a part of that policy. Spanish accession, the North sea, the Irish box and the maintenance of relative stability are all fundamentally important to this great industry, which we all respect so much.
If we achieve a level fishing playing field within the European Union for all our fishing communities--perhaps that is not the correct analogy when we are talking about fishing--I want clear guidance from the Minister on how the Government will ensure that such agreements are monitored, controlled and honoured exactly.
For fishermen in my constituency, one of the most important issues is that they feel that they are not on a level playing field. Can we have some more details ? I know that
Column 1221the Minister wants to jump to the Dispatch Box, but perhaps, in light of the time available, he will cover that question in his closing speech or in a letter.
On the recommendations made by people in the British industry, there are differences between the Scottish and British industries. Can I have clarification of whether the Scottish Office is considering the serious recommendations, relating to square mesh panels, made by the Scottish Fishermen's Federation ? The recommendations being made by the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations are not compatible with the species which are caught in the North sea.
The PESCA scheme is very important, because at the moment there is no guarantee that crewmen will have any share in the decommissioning, and it is often dependent on the owner's attitude. Will the Government ensure that any pressure which comes to bear on the PESCA funds ensures that our crewmen will be treated the same as crewmen elsewhere within the European Union, because it seems that every other member state is pushing in that direction ?
Is there any way in which Ministers can reduce the bureaucracy which fishermen have to face ? It seems that, every time they turn around, there are more and more regulations and forms to fill in. That is a part of the irritation which is felt towards the common fisheries policy and towards the Government's regulations. May we have some guidance on how that can be reduced ?
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North) : It seems that we in the fishing industry suffer from the law of diminishing returns. The more we shout that we need more time for a debate on the industry, the less time we get. I do not want to waste time on that, as fortunately the industry is not in an absolutely immediate crisis.
We welcome the scheme so far as it goes. The fact that we have argued that it is not enough and that we are 50 per cent. under the multi-annual guidance programme target is not a matter of mathematical certainties or equations. The longer that we do not meet the target, and there is no obvious way of making the target, the more likely it is as we approach 1996 that even greater effort limitation will be forced upon us. Prices will become more severe, and we do not know how that will be met.
In view of the time, I shall be extremely brief. The Minister said that the Government will be monitoring the fleet's fishing effort and that it would not be done with a heavy hand. But the opposite of a heavy hand is not necessarily a light touch. We need a clear explanation as to how that monitoring will take place. A balance must be struck between the bureaucratic rules and proper effective monitoring. The Minister must try to strike that balance. I want to emphasise, as the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) did, the importance of the PESCA scheme and of looking at compensation for crewmen who have lost their jobs. Will the Minister have a word with his colleagues in the Department of Employment which is currently running a voluntary scheme for trawlermen who have lost their jobs ? The Department says that someone can qualify for compensation only if he has had two years' continuous employment with the same employer. In Aberdeen in particular--I know that similar things happened elsewhere
Column 1222in the country--all trawlermen were employed by the Aberdeen Fish Vessel Association, and one could not get a job unless one was registered. The association told the crewmen on which boats to sail. If they transgressed, there were subsequent disciplinary proceedings which were jointly operated by the owners and the trade unions. The Department of Employment is saying that that association is now an agency and, since it is an agency, the men do not qualify. In going for the PESCA scheme, and after having a word with the Department of Employment, the Minister should not be too rigid. These people have had their livelihoods taken away and there is no prospect that they will be restored. I ask the Minister to please go for the PESCA scheme and to look at the way in which the rules are applied. He must ensure that the Government apply compassion and flexibility because that is necessary for people who have served the industry well.
Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow) : I shall be very brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As I pointed out earlier, if effort limitation is to be effective as a conservation tool, the fleet must be in some kind of rough balance with the sustainability of stocks. To believe that effort limitation, even when it is based on a permanent system, equals capacity reduction--this is the point that I made to Minister, who claimed that I had my terms mixed up--flies in the face of history and experience.
Applying effort restrictions while the fleet is well over capacity will lead inevitably to hardship and, in many cases, to bankruptcy. That is the fact of the matter, especially where I come from where we have an aging fleet. The communities, as the Minister well knows, are utterly dependent upon the fishing industry, and the industry is part and parcel of the culture of the communities.
Effort restrictions do nothing to produce an efficient and well-balanced United Kingdom fishing fleet, and the Minister must face up to that. In my view, we need an effective and larger decommissioning scheme to achieve that rough balance, but I think that we are a long way from that.
I have mentioned the multi-annual guidance programme criteria that the Minister used, and those relate to a reduction in the fleet's tonnage and its horsepower. I believe that the European Community is attempting to arrive at a scheme by which we can measure fishing capacity. That is an enormously difficult task, but, in the long run, it is better than the crude criteria which underpin the MAGP. The decommissioning scheme must allow for the renewal and reinvigorating of aging fleets. Many of the fleets from the Western isles and from some of the fishing communities near where I live, such as Campbeltown, Tarbert and Greenock, have very old boats. The fleets need to be replenished and the scheme must allow for the rebuilding of the fleets.
I have been given strict instructions to sit down at a specific moment, and I sometimes obey orders ; not always, but sometimes. We must look at the people who crew the vessels. Fishing, as the Minister has said on a number of occasions, is the toughest and harshest occupation in the United Kingdom. It is much too tough an occupation for me. I tried it as a kid of 15 and I happily acknowledge that it
Column 1223needed only one north Atlantic gale to put me ashore for ever. I have been to sea since, but I am always glad that it is not my occupation.
I have brothers who work on trawlers so perhaps I should declare an interest. It is important that the crewmen are protected along with the skipper-owners of fishing vessels. As the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) and my hon. and old Friend for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) said-- [Interruption.] These men, their families and their communities must be protected. It seems to me that representing a maritime constituency-- [Interruption.] I could do without this heckling from my hon. Friend.
Dr. Godman : I represent a maritime constituency which has been helped to some extent by European Community structural funds to aid those areas suffering because of declining industries. For example, the Renaval programme assisted constituencies such as mine which have suffered from the decline in the shipbuilding industry. Why should not there be a similar scheme for fishing communities ?
Why should not there be a scheme which allows for compensation to be paid to the men who crew the vessels ? That should be a part of the European Union scheme for giving protection to those communities. In many of those scattered communities, such as Portavadie--or even Grimsby--and some of the other communities which my colleagues and I represent north of the border, there are very few alternatives for those men who have been put ashore, perhaps permanently. The men must be looked after and the scheme must allow for refreshing the fleet. An aging fleet is no good to anyone as it presents additional safety hazards to the men who crew the vessels. The decommissioning scheme must not obstruct the renewing of those fleets.
In an intervention in the Minister's speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) asked for an assurance that the Spaniards would not gain access to precious and non-precious stocks in the North sea. Will the Minister deal with that matter when he winds up ?
In his speech, the Minister said that, if necessary, the Government would take measures to monitor the fishing effort of the remaining fleet after decommissioning. Given that they wish to restrict the efforts of the remaining fleet, how will they go about that with no days-at-sea scheme ?
On the question of how we shall meet the shortfall of what the present decommissioning scheme takes out, the Minister spoke about capacity, aggregation and conservation measures. But how does he propose to fill that gap ? In the Scottish Grand Committee the other day, the Under-Secretary of State at the Scottish Office, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), said that over the next three years the scheme would take out 2.2 to 2.5 per cent. and that, on a good day--when have the Government had a good day in the past few years ?--it would take out 8 per cent. That still leaves 11 per cent. As the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) said, the Government are being extraordinarily vague. That point must be clarified.
Column 1224The Government keep mentioning £25 million. In the Scottish Grand Committee the Minister was pressed on that matter and I said that the Government would recover approximately £17.5 million from Brussels, leaving a net bill for the Exchequer of £7.5 million. That amount will be further reduced by the taxation paid by fishermen in the form of decommissioning grants. Ultimately, therefore, the total sum could be £5 million, which is small beer by any means and shows that the Government are not considering the matter seriously. More resources are definitely needed.
The Minister mentioned the Commission. At what stage are the Government's discussions with the Commission about substituting conservation measures for days at sea ? The industry feels that the Government are getting nowhere with that issue and that the Minister hopes that this scheme will fill in part of the multi-annual guidance programme gap. If that is true, the Government's argument does not hold because, to date, the Commission has not said that it will accept conservation measures as part of effort reduction. How, then, will the Government make up the shortfall in effort reduction ? Will it be made up by extra restrictions on the United Kingdom fleet ? Is that the Government's secret agenda ? Do they want the Commission to do their dirty work so that they do not get their hands dirty ? The days-at-sea measure is currently being examined in court. If I may draw an analogy, the Government have just one golf club--one policy--on this matter. While the court case prevails, they should discuss a range of measures with the industry and decide how to proceed. It will be another year before we know the outcome of the court case, so it is inadequate for the Government to have no alternative strategy in the meantime. One can only conclude that their policy is to let the British fleet fade away while our modernised rivals wait over the horizon to take up the fishing opportunities which the Government, because they lack a decommissioning policy, are in danger of denying our fishermen. It is also inadequate for the Government to wait for the Commission to rescue them. They spout anti- European rhetoric, yet they wait for the European Community to rescue them. They should be up front with the industry and discuss a range of measures to show that they are concerned about the matter. That is the least that they should offer while we accept the measure on offer tonight.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Sir Hector Monro) : I agree with the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) that itis sad that we do not have more time to debate fishing. All hon. Members have had to curtail their speeches, as I will in summing up the debate. However, I shall try to answer a number of points that were raised.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) and the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor) for welcoming unreservedly our decommissioning proposals. They are a valuable step forward and I am glad that we are continuing the decommissioning scheme for this year and next. At least it is clear to fishermen that there are two decommissioning tranches to apply for. Given the number of applications for the last scheme, which will finish in April, I have every confidence that there will be a number of applications and that those will be distributed fairly throughout the country, as they were last time. Each
Column 1225area has a fair amount of decommissioning. It is unfortunate that fishermen must destroy boats but that step is definitely necessary because, all too frequently in the past, if boats were not destroyed they somehow worked their way back into the fishing fleet. Throughout the debate Opposition Members have uttered their usual cry that the Government are not doing enough and have implied that they would spend their way out of the problem. No one was more emphatic about that than the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), who said, "£40 million ? No, higher still. Spend, spend, spend." If Governments took that attitude whenever a problem arose and simply bought their way out, it would result in higher inflation, higher interest rates and, inevitably, higher unemployment. One must look at the overall picture before demanding huge sums of money from the Treasury. The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) was kicking to touch when he was challenged about the total to which he has committed the Labour party, but I shall not push him on that as I am sure that it was slightly tongue in cheek. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) asked about the PESCA scheme. We are anxious to proceed with that scheme and I shall take up the point that he raised with the Department of Employment. If a misunderstanding or failure has occurred within the agency for training, we shall endeavour to help and improve the situation. Hon. Members on both sides of the House spoke of the uncertainty that has been thrown into the pool by the Commission's announcement today. We were all surprised that it was made today. We have officials discussing the matter in Brussels and shall make an announcement as
Column 1226soon as we can. However, it is wrong to create fears and despondency before the matter has even been discussed and before we have consulted the industry. Fisheries Councils will take place in September and November, when the matter is likely to be discussed in detail. It is wrong to think that a decision has been taken today in Europe ; it has not. They are simply proposals that we must consider in much greater detail.
We have continuing discussions with the fishing industry. I am glad to have such discussions as often as possible with the Scottish Fishermen's Federation. The constructive views of the federation are extremely valuable when we have discussions in Europe. Its representatives and those of its English counterparts usually attend the meetings and we are able to speak to them while discussions are going on in the chamber.
I am glad that the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) read what I had to say in the Scottish Grand Committee yesterday. Perhaps my addition was not very obvious to him, but 2.2 per cent. a year for three years is not far away from about 7 per cent., plus the percentage that we hope to obtain from licensing. The hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that it is very approximate, because it is the closest that we can get. One does not know how many boats will come forward this year for decommissioning. One cannot possibly tell to within half a per cent. the amount that we shall be able to take out of effort this year until we have
It being Seven o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker-- put the Question, pursuant to Order [11 July]
Question agreed to.
That the Fishing Vessels (Decommissioning) Scheme 1994 (S.I., 1994, No. 1568), a copy of which was laid before this House on 15th June, be approved.
, subject to any order under section 31 (Alteration on limits of jurisdiction) of this Act,'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris) : With this, it will be convenient to discuss also the following amendments : No. 3, in clause 31, page 11, line 21, leave out limits of jurisdiction', and insert
designated areas, as defined in section 2 (Interpretation) of this Act,'.
No. 4, in page 11, line 26, leave out from area' to end of line 29.
No. 5, in page 11, leave out lines 30 and 31.
No. 6, in clause 34, page 12, line 38, leave out subsection (7). No. 7, in page 12, line 40, after section', insert 31 or'.
Mr. Spearing : May I, as a preliminary, seek guidance from you, Mr. Deputy Speaker ? Since the grouping was put together earlier this week, certain events have happened which I hope to describe. I hope, therefore, that it will be possible, if necessary--I hope that it will not be necessary--to have a vote on amendment No. 4 and perhaps on amendment No. 6. I very much hope that the reply which the promoter will be able to provide will not provoke that, but it is a point which I would wish to raise with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, at the outset, which is the proper time.
Mr. Deputy Speaker indicated assent .
The Bill has had a long and complex path through the other place and this House. There was a two-and-a-half-hour debate in March, when the Members of Parliament for docklands constituencies gave the Bill a cautious welcome, heavily hedged with qualifications, before it went to the Unopposed Bill Committee upstairs.
One of the main objections of docklands Members of Parliament was that the Bill was being promoted by a public body, in effect wholly controlled by the Secretary of State for the Environment, which was due to disappear in two or three years' time. Upstairs in Committee, we obtained an amendment by the Unopposed Bill Committee that where the area of designation in this area for byelaws under the Act was to pass from the London Docklands development corporation to other organisations, unspecified--private or public, perhaps as yet unfounded, and perhaps the proposed royal docks management authority in the case of my constituency--it would need a parliamentary affirmative resolution before the power to make byelaws passed from the LDDC. Happily, that was achieved.
However, docklands Members of Parliament were worried about other matters, both procedural--in terms of power and law-making powers--and in terms of substance. Those have been grouped in the selection which you have