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Mr. Moss: The Minister told the House that there is a fundamental difference between the earlier Hull university report on zonal management and the final submission from the NFFO and the SFF. If the reports were different, are his officials now saying that the NFFO's proposals for zonal management do need a treaty change or that they do not?
There is an argument for the Council of Ministers being the final accountable body. Although I am very happy to let the Mediterranean states sort out issues such as quotas and management within the Mediterranean, I might want to make comments about environmental issues, for example. We have a tiny tuna by-catch quota, but we get roped into tuna matters because, although we have a tiny quota, we have a very big vote in these negotiations. It is right that the Council should be the final body, but it is possible to have such approaches within the framework of the CFP that would not require treaty change.
Mr. Salmond: I understand the Minister wanting to see off the Tory Front Bench, but he heard from his own Back Benchers and from other parties about the industry's urgent needs in both the short and the medium term. He knows that the all-party body is going to see the Treasury--if the Treasury will see us. Unless he addresses these points and gives us some indication, some encouragement and some hope, many people within, and particularly without, this Chamber will be very disappointed in him.
Mr. Morley: I have every intention of addressing those issues, because they are key issues. I have listened very carefully to the comments of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and I will not duck the issues; hon. Members would not expect me to.
I should like to finish dealing with the arguments about the CFP and what can and cannot be done. The final point I wanted to make concerned the common resource. "Common resource" is a very unfortunate term. I wish that it had not been included in the CFP, particularly because the concept of common resource has been superseded by that of relative stability. While it is true that there is equal access, that access counts for nothing unless one has the quota allocation.
Now we have relative stability, distributed among member states with their relative stability keys. We have a very good share of the principal stocks in the North sea that are of interest to us. We have some 80 per cent. of the total haddock quota. We have 50 per cent. of the cod quota--the biggest share of that. That will not change, and I predict that in the 2002 review, relative stability will not change. I also predict that we shall continue with coastal limits--the six and 12-mile limits. Those are fundamental issues within the CFP of interest to our fishermen, to us as a member state and to other member states.
Mr. Andrew George: What the Minister is saying is enlightening and very important. Given that his officials are to analyse the implications of zonal management, which is supported by the Conservatives' European
The issue of the CFP is important, but the idea of withdrawing and negotiating is not credible. That is why when people say that the end result would be withdrawal from the European Union they are right, because unless we comply with the treaty obligations that this country entered into, there is no option but to withdraw. That would have devastating consequences for this country. In those circumstances, would we have had the important announcement today that Nissan is to invest millions of pounds in this country, with all the benefits for the car industry, related jobs and our steel industry? I am not so sure. Ninety per cent. of the fish catch of the south-west is exported to the European Union, enjoying the benefits of a single market, with no tariff barriers.
The cod spawning areas have been mentioned. They are crucial to our fleet and we have the largest quota, but they are nearly all outside our national limits. If we had no say in how the recovery plan would work, we could be severely disadvantaged if other member states chose to maximise their catch in spawning areas, which would have consequences for our fishing industry in the North sea.
Fisheries management must be on a pan-European basis. I am not saying that the common fisheries policy is perfect, or that it cannot be improved, but as the debate made clear, if we did not have the CFP, we would have to invent something very much like it for the purposes of fisheries management.
There is undoubtedly a case for industry support. I questioned the sum of £100 million, not to disparage it but because I have no idea what it is based on or how it is supposed to be divided up. I do not know whether the bulk of it is for a decommissioning scheme or for other measures in the industry. I will have to speak to the industry about that. I will meet representatives of the English industry on 30 January.
Support for the industry will have to be delivered through the structural funds. Some funds are available, and if we can obtain more, they can be channelled through the structural funds to the industry. Structural funds are administered by the devolved Administrations. The Scottish Executive administer the structural funds for Scotland, and I administer the English structural funds.
There may be a case for a UK approach to the matter. I work closely with Rhona Brankin of the Scottish Executive. It would be sensible and logical for some of the issues to be addressed on a UK basis, but the administration of the schemes would be local. Hon. Members should not forget that there is a large local and regional element to the
Mr. Salmond: Some of us remember the early 1990s, when for three years the Scottish Office was in favour of decommissioning, but when that was vetoed by the then fisheries Minister in London. Is the Minister saying that the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Executive or Scottish Government could choose to access the money currently available for lay-up schemes which is identified in Commission documents? Is that what the hon. Gentleman is saying, or is he saying that that is not possible?
Mr. Morley: I am saying that the regional funds are administered on a regional basis through the FIFG funds. Theoretically, there could be differences, and there are slight differences--for example, Northern Ireland has already announced that it will introduce a decommissioning scheme and it is using its funds for that. I know that that decision is welcomed by the Northern Ireland fishing fleet.
It is right and proper that there should be a regional approach, because there are regional differences among the fishing fleet, but there is also a case for a UK approach. I co-operate well with Rhona Brankin and the Scottish Executive in trying to address the issues together.
On tie-up grants, there is no comparison between tie-up grants and suggestions for a short-term closure of the fisheries that we are discussing, and what has happened in Spain. In Spain, an entire fishing fleet has been denied any fishing opportunities because of the closure of the Moroccan grounds. I am not sure whether that fleet will get back into those grounds, because the Moroccan agreement is not going very well. A large fleet and a great many jobs may have to undergo a decommissioning process in Spain.
I feel for people in the fishing industry, wherever they may be. People should not think that that fishing fleet has anywhere else to go. They should not think that because the fleet cannot get into Moroccan waters, it will appear in the North sea. I have seen those fishing boats, and there is no possibility of that. If there is no Moroccan agreement, that fleet is finished. We should not forget that.
The trouble with the tie-up grant is that it sometimes puts off difficult decisions. Also, it goes to the boat owners, not to the crew, and it could be seen as rewarding people who have contributed to overfishing by compensating them with state funding. It is not an altogether attractive proposal.
Nevertheless, I am prepared to discuss all the options with the industry. I do not rule anything out at this stage. I do not want to mislead people. Unlike the Opposition in relation to some of their policies, I have been very honest about what we can do in MAFF. I am prepared to make the case for the industry to address long-term problems and encourage long-term sustainability and stability in the fishing fleet. That is why I want to talk to the industry and am willing to make their case.