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Mr. McLeish: No, I am just breathing.

Mr. Grieve: If we consider the way in which the proposed legislation will operate in practice, it will be a fertile area for dispute. What is said to be consultation is all part of the happy-clappy inclusiveness which the Government serve up to us. Everybody can be happy, clappy and inclusive as long as everyone agrees with the decision that the Government will make.

I fail to see how the consultation process, as it is added in by the amendment, will serve any purpose if it is spelt out statutorily if, ultimately, Ministers in Whitehall will have to take the final decision--under considerable pressure, one may suspect, from the electorate south of the border as much as that north of the border. The debate has served to bring that out.

I am worried not that the Minister has presented the amendment and asked us to approve it but by the slightly mealy-mouthed way in which he tries to avoid spelling out the truth behind the amendment. All these things get dressed up. Instead of telling the House, "This is the position, there is a consultation mechanism but at the end of the day Whitehall Ministers will have to decide how allocations are implemented fairly on a United Kingdom basis", the process is dressed up. At the end of the day it is suggested that by the mechanism that has been put before us those north of the border will have an input on a statutory basis into the way in which the formulae are arrived at. That is not correct.

Mr. Hayes: I am hesitant to interrupt my hon. Friend's Anglo-Catholic sermon. Perhaps the Minister can deal with the issue best by adopting the course that we have asked him to follow when discussing previous groups of amendments and using illustrations. We look for some tangible and practical illustrations of how the process

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would work in practice. In my judgment it is all very well to talk about technical amendments but unless we translate them into practicalities, it is rather hard for us to make judgments about them.

Mr. Grieve: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am not sure about the Anglo-Catholicism of my speech--it may be Anglo-Scottish for all I know. As I have often said to the Minister, I hope that the legislation works. However, it is incumbent on the Opposition to point out areas in which it may prove to be deficient.

Mr. Syms: The Minister alluded to the proposed subsection (5) under amendment No. 146, which says:


That leaves a lot of room for misunderstanding. Will this matter be set out in a concordat between the Scottish Executive and the Government so that people know the ground rules in respect of areas of policy, or will it be an ad hoc arrangement--

Mr. McLeish indicated dissent.

Mr. Syms: The Minister shakes his head. That is very important because there might be differences over consultation, not only over what people should be consulted about but over what weight should be given to respective consultations.

The Bill seems to be moving towards some kind of formula whereby people would know where they stand on these issues. I welcome that because it diminishes the potential for disputes. It would be extremely helpful if the Minister would reassure us that that matter will be negotiated between the Scottish Assembly and the Government.

Mr. McLeish: I can give the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Syms) total reassurance on an extremely well made point.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 140 to 152 agreed to [some with Special Entry].

Clause 100

Regulation of Tweed and Esk fisheries


Lords amendment: No. 153, in page 46, leave out lines 12 and 13 and insert
("or in connection with the conservation, management and exploitation of salmon, trout, eels and freshwater fish in the Border rivers.
(1A) An Order under subsection (1) may--
(a) exclude the application of section 49 in relation to any Border rivers function,
(b) confer power to make subordinate legislation.
(1B) In particular, provision may be made by such an Order--
(a) conferring any function on a Minister of the Crown, the Scottish Ministers or a public body in relation to the Border rivers,
(b) for any Border rivers function exercisable by any person to be exercisable instead by a person (or another person) mentioned in paragraph (a),

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(c) for any Border rivers function exercisable by any person to be exercisable concurrently or jointly with, or with the agreement of or after consultation with, a person (or another person) mentioned in paragraph (a).")

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.--[Mr. McLeish.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this, it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 154 to 156, 192, 195 and 209.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed): I shall deal first with amendments Nos. 153 to 156, which cover ground that was debated hastily, under urgent timetable pressure, earlier in the proceedings. We now have from the Lords a much expanded definition compared with the original. However, it is quite complex and I hope that the Minister will explain it a little further.

The essential principle that concerns my constituents and me is that what happens in England should not be decided merely by the Scottish Parliament without reference to my constituents' representations, which will be made through this House. [Interruption.] Those who suggest that adjusting the boundary could solve the problem had better have another look at the atlas, because it would be a fairly substantial boundary adjustment.

If the Scottish Parliament decided to allow Sunday fishing on the River Till--a considerable distance south of the border--which would add to pressure on river stocks, current UK legislation would preclude it. However, if the Scottish Parliament became enthusiastic for such a change, or for such a change on the entire Tweed river system, my constituents would have a legitimate interest in resisting that change.

One could imagine other changes, especially as the clause includes environmental aspects that could be significant. If legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament required the removal of various kinds of cauld that exist on the river system now, landowners would be involved in significant expense. We therefore need to be clear that there would then be an effective process of representation through this Parliament, and that any orders made would have regard to that.

What will be the position on commencement day? Will we have to wait some time for an order under clause 100? If so, what will be the position in the mean time? Will the legislation be accompanied by an immediate order under clause 100, or will there be a significant period in which all those matters will be dealt with by Westminster? I do not understand what happens in that interim period. I should be grateful for the Minister's reassurance on both those points, which affect the property and livelihood of a number of my constituents.

Amendments Nos. 192, 195 and 209 define the "Scottish zone" and an order will subsequently amplify the definition. Will that be done immediately, or will we wait for a long time before we have a definition? What happens if we wait for a long time? Will the order introduced under clause 112(2), to which amendmentNo. 195 refers, create a new definition of the "Scottish zone" and the boundary between Scotland and England out to sea? That is an intriguing prospect, as nobody has produced a satisfactory definition thus far and there are sharp differences of view as to where that boundary should lie.

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Of more immediate significance to my constituents are the references to Scottish fishing boats because many boats fishing from ports in my constituency are registered in Scotland. The effect of these amendments appears to be that the fishing activities of a Scottish-registered boat fishing in the English zone would be regulated by the Scottish Parliament.

Mr. McLeish indicated assent.

Mr. Beith: The Minister agrees that that is the correct interpretation. It is easy to understand the logic that, if a vessel is registered in Scotland and its owner fishes in Scottish waters, he has accepted obligations to Scotland which make it appropriate that he should be regulated by Scotland. It is slightly more questionable when, for historical or other reasons, a vessel is registered in Scotland and its owner fishes off Seahouses or Amble and is nevertheless regulated wholly by the Scottish Parliament. Has the Minister thought about that; and will he clarify the position?

Dr. Fox: The question of the River Esk was raised in the other place on several occasions. Will the Minister give us some quick clarifications? As the House knows, the management of the River Esk and the right to its source has been claimed by the North West Water authority, the National Rivers Authority, and now the Environment Agency. When it comes to the question of management, exactly how will joint authorities work together, and what will their relative responsibilities be? If the Minister cannot answer now, I should be grateful if he wrote to me explaining exactly how that will be worked out. I hope that the details of this specific example, as opposed to the generic one that we discussed under the previous group of amendments, have been sorted out because it is a very practical issue that has caused many problems.

May I make a plea for anglers? What is the current position in the Bill regarding rod licensing? That matter was raised in the other place and we did not quite get an answer then.

It may be appropriate to finish discussion of this group of amendments and the Bill by asking about a fixed boundary in the Solway Firth. Given that the centre of the channel moves, how will that come about? Are we to attempt to restrict and fix in legislation something that is wholly flexible and movable in nature? Let us hope that our attempt to do that is better than our attempts in some other parts of the Bill.


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