Examination of witness (Questions 100-108)|
WEDNESDAY 9 MAY 2001
MORLEY MP Mr Todd
100. You touched on the issue of powers and
resources of Sea Fisheries Committees. Logically, if they are
going to be given a greater role in management then one has to
look at both their constitution and how well they reflect the
task they have in front of them and also the resources, the money,
they have available to carry out their function. How far has that
detailed work actually gone?
(Mr Morley) The Sea Fisheries Committees do have proposals
of their own and they have been pressing for a review of the legislation
to modernise, legislation that gives them powers. There is a case
for reviewing legislation. There is a case for addressing some
of the areas where they feel their powers are inadequate, and
I am sympathetic to that. It would require time, of course.
101. Has there been a bid?
(Mr Morley) Yes, there is a bid in in relation to
our future programme, in relation to certain aspects of it. There
are different levels of changes which require different levels
of complicated legislation. On the resource issue, which has been
a long-standing issue, because they are resourced by local authorities,
I understand the Sea Fisheries Committees' concerns about this,
and there is no simple answer to this.
102. There is no ring-fencing of the resources.
(Mr Morley) No, it very much depends on the local
authorities, it is not ring-fenced.
103. You may have answered this, I want to look
forward a few years, the expansion of the EU and what impact that
might have on the some of policies that are you trying to implement.
(Mr Morley) I think the expansion of the EU will have
a fairly marginal impact on the Common Fisheries Policy. There
are some candidate nations that do have significant fishing fleets,
Poland is one, and some of the Baltic States, however they do
not fish within current EU waters. The issue is that if we can
maintain the principle of relative stability, and I think that
we can maintain that, because I think there is a consensus agreement
within the Council of Ministers, if we maintain that post 2002
as part of the Review then, of course, the candidate nations will
not have a quota within EU waters and will not have access to
104. You mentioned, it follows on from the area
you have just been discussing, you thought some consensus was
emerging from the Council around the Green Paper proposal, then
you said in the Council the Spanish had disagreed from the position
they had taken more privately within bilateral discussion. Can
you give us a flavour of the areas of Spanish disagreement at
the present time?
(Mr Morley) The Spanish minister in the April discussions
was basicallyI hope I am not doing him a disservicearguing
for EU-wide ITQs. He was arguing that a quota should be tradable
across international boundaries. He also did not give support
to the coastal limits, and that was a little bit surprising. I
know countries like Portugal are very strongly in support of coastal
105. Can you refresh my memory, in terms of
the 2002 situation, is there a consensus about not allowing Spain
to fish in the North Sea?
(Mr Morley) We are back to relative stability, that
is where the consensus is, if relative stability is maintained,
as Spain and Portugal do not have a quota within the North Sea,
then, of course, they have no useful access.
106. What about access to waters for non quota
(Mr Morley) Theoretically they will have access to
waters for non quota species but I cannot think of any commercially
important non quota species available in the North Sea. Over the
last four years new, non quota species have been put on quota,
and I have to say, Chairman, the United Kingdom did very well
out of that, getting 80 per cent of the
107. Minister, finally can I ask a question
that I asked Mr Deas at the beginning, there only seems to be
one route, it is more regulated, more complicated and fishermen
are diverted on to one stock and it becomes under strain and before
we know where we are there is a need to introduce licensing on
that stock because that has been hit too hard. You yourself have
introduced additional regulations, for example, the landing limitations,
which everybody understands, can you conceive of a scenario where
this goes into reverse? One is all the time multiplying regulation
for what is, after all, a small catching industry. I accept your
point about it being a dependent industry on the shore which does
consume a very large amount of government money. Every time you
go along to the Treasury to ask for more money you receive the
same reception, that I have no doubt Mr Jack and I received, "You
cannot be back again for more money for that industry!".
(Mr Morley) "Do not darken our door" is
a familiar refrain.
108. I expect there is a culture in the Treasury,
for understandable reasons, I do not think that changes with government,
can you envisage a scenario where we could unravel it a bit and
free it up and it could still work as an industry?
(Mr Morley) There is a case for trying to cut through
some of the bureaucracy. It is part of the submission that we
have made from the United Kingdom to the EU that we should look
very carefully at the range of restrictions which are placed on
the fishing industry and to examine whether or not they are justifiable.
There is always going to have to be some restriction on the fishing
industry, that is inevitable, although the development of new
technology does allow, in principle, the possibility of reducing
some of the restrictions, satellite monitoring and things like
that. We do have one or two problems with the satellite monitoring
going off on regular occasions which we need to resolve, but it
does have the potential to reduce some of the bureaucracy.
Chairman: Minister, we do not know whether we
will be here after the election, you do not know whether you will
be here and we have no idea whether MAFF will be there, although
I have to say I rather take the view that all those people forecasting
its demise ought to look at history and they will have been there
before. I expect to see it survive rather more than most people
expect to see it survive. You have done a very long stint as Fisheries
Minister and without forecasting your fate or our fate I have
no doubt you have scars to show, as we all have. One day we will
form a club and invite Mr Mitchell to be an honorary member in
order to continue the process of educating him. Thank you very
much for coming to us today, and in whatever capacity we will
look forward to meeting in the new Parliament, or not?