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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 28 June 2005


Fishing Industry (Strategy Unit Report)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I am pleased to announce the publication today of Securing the Benefits, the joint UK response to the March 2004 Net Benefits report from the Prime Minister's strategy unit on the future of the fishing industry in the UK. The latter report was commissioned by the Prime Minister after the state of cod stocks led to the introduction in 2003 of limitations on the time fishing vessels could spend at sea, and in turn to significant decommissioning of UK boats.

Securing the Benefits sets out how the fisheries' administrations in the UK intend to implement the strategy unit's recommendations for the creation of a profitable future for the fishing industry in a thriving marine environment. We have developed this response in close partnership with the fishing industry and other interested groups, and will maintain that partnership as we deliver the actions we have mapped out.

The strategy unit firmly recommended that we should declare a clear aim for the fisheries policy, and Securing the Benefits does this. Our over-arching aim is:

Securing the Benefits then declares a number of key measures which the administrations are committed to taking forward together at EU, national and regional level, including:

Securing the Benefits also notes some measures which the individual UK fisheries' administrations will be taking on their own account. The key measures being adopted by Defra in respect of England include:

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Defra will also be publishing its own paper in a few weeks to set out in more detail its plans for taking forward the measures set out in Securing the Benefits as well as other fisheries issues.

The measures we are announcing will build the economic, social and environmental aims of sustainable development into our approach to fishing. Securing the Benefits sets out a balanced and responsible approach to taking forward the strategy unit's recommendations, and I look forward to working with all concerned to implement it.

Copies of the response have been placed in the Libraries of the House.


FCO Response to the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): Following the tsunami in the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) launched its largest ever operation to provide consular assistance to British nationals. The FCO provided an immediate and targeted response, with excellent commitment from staff, but given the sheer scale of the incident—triggered by the second largest earthquake on record—and the number of countries affected, FCO resources were stretched. In a relatively small number of cases, British nationals did not receive the level of service that we would normally have wished to provide.

During February and March 2005, the FCO carried out an internal review of our consular response. The emerging findings of this review were published as part of the FCO's memorandum to the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Committee on 9 March 2005. The Committee made copies of the memorandum available to all Members of Parliament. In the debate following my statement to the House of Commons on 22 March concerning the tsunami, I undertook to make the final conclusions of the internal review known to the House.

The conclusions of the internal review are set out in the form of a short summary of findings and a list of urgent and other recommendations copies of which I have today arranged to be placed in the Library of the House.

The recommendations are both for the consular directorate in London and for our posts overseas. The purpose of the internal review was to examine the FCO's overall response to the tsunami and identify those areas where better structures, equipment or preparation would have helped us to react more effectively. The review focused on the immediate response to the tsunami and dealt with the work of the FCO only and not of other Government Departments. The National Audit Office is currently examining the overall governmental response to the tsunami crisis, including the role of the FCO, in their review of consular services, due to be published by the end of the year.