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Mr. Bradshaw: That is exactly why the UK has supported the regional advisory councils. We want their role to grow. By the end of our presidency, we will have successfully established two or three. However, the hon. Gentleman should not get the impression that landlocked countries such as Hungary play a major role in the Fisheries Council. The other member states would not take it well if Hungary or another landlocked country without any obvious interest in fisheries scuppered a deal. They tend to go with the presidency compromise.
Mr. Salmond: We must have international agreements on fisheries and therefore there will be a common fisheries policythat does not follow. However, does the Under-Secretary agree that the most telling aspect of our debate was the uncharacteristic silence at key moments of the speech of the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson)? He is in a difficult position because he has to interpret the mind of the new leader and perhaps he does not know it yet. None the less, the silence spoke volumes.
Let me briefly respond to the points of my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) about illegal fishing on the high seas. That is an important issue and the Government take it seriously. He may already know that Britain chairsindeed, I chair itthe High Seas Task Force, which comprises six nations: New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Namibia, Chile and Britain. It has the specific job of examining the problem. We will publish our report in March with a concrete action plan for further measures, including flagged vessels and problems such as bottom trawling.
Next year will be an important year at the United Nations for international fisheries, because it will review its fisheries agreement. The UK should play a leading role in trying to wake up the world to the seriousness of what is happening on our oceans.
Earlier, I mentioned the impact of human beings on the oceans. There is no doubt about that impact if we examine the international position. Overall, stock levels are about a 10th of what they were 100 or more years ago, because humans are getting much better at catching fish. They are much more efficient, build bigger boats and catch more fish. On the high seas, there is weak governance and little control, little reporting and little, if any, enforcement. We all need to address that.
Sustainable fisheries and the protection of our marine environment go hand in hand. I hope that most hon. Members agree that we have had a useful and constructive debate. If I failed to respond to any specific points, I will write to hon. Members.
Mr. Hoyle: I am sorry that the Under-Secretary believes that it is a bit of a trial to give way now when he has given way throughout his speech to hon. Members of all parties. I asked him about shark fishing and the problem off Ireland and Scotland. Will he look into that in future?
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab):
I wish to present a petition on behalf of 10,000 of my constituents in support of action by the British Government and the Indian Government on the murder of a British citizen, Mohan Singh, one of my constituents who recently went to India, where he sought to oversee a house building project. While eating in a café in the Punjab, he was stabbed to death by several people and we still do not know the identity of his murderer. I shall travel to India next week to try to help with the investigation.
7 Dec 2005 : Column 959
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the British Government to work with the Indian Government to help bring the perpetrators of Mohan Singh's death to justice and to ensure that the necessary measures are in place for British citizens to travel safely to India.
The Petitioners further request that the House of Commons urge the Foreign Secretary to take steps and work with his counterpart in India to help with investigations and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Keith Vaz: I wish to present a petition signed by 2,500 people nationally about the proposals, which have now been shelvedpermanently, we hopefor abolishing the right of appeal in visitors' visas cases. Following assurances by the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality that the appeal rights will remain, the petition is, to some extent, redundant. However, it has been signed by 2,500 people who were concerned by the proposals.
That the right of oral appeal and current definition of family members for visitors' visas and the right of appeal for overseas students are very important to Institutions of Higher Education as well as to ethnic minorities throughout the United Kingdom.
Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): This is a petition of the residents of the villages of Farnham Common, Farnham Royal and Hedgerley, in the Beaconsfield constituency, in respect of the council tax protest campaign.
That the year-on-year inflation-busting increases in council tax are causing hardship to many and take no account of ability to pay; and that the proposed property revaluation and rebanding exercise will make an already flawed system even worse.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons vote to replace council tax with a fair and equitable tax that, without recourse to any supplementary benefit, takes into account ability to pay from disposable income. Such tax to be based on a system that is free from any geographical or politically motivated discrimination, and that clearly identifies the fiscal and managerial responsibilities of all involved parties.
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to discuss the need to introduce a supermarket regulator. I am delighted to see my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North (Malcolm Wicks) on the Front Bench tonight.
British food retailing has world-class status, and in the past decade it has become innovative, dynamic and diverse. However, supermarkets have been allowed to expand to such an extent that they are now damaging competition and consumer choice. The campaign to highlight this trend has been ongoing for some time, as we have witnessed the devastating effects of the parallel and aggressive expansion of the four supermarket chains: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons. Of these four, one towers above the others.
When Tesco moved into the convenience store sector, record closure rates were reported for independent local shops. Last year, 2,000 small convenience stores closed because it was impossible for them to compete.
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Does my hon. Friend recall that about two years into our first period in government, the Competition Commission looked at the implications of the concentration in the grocery and supermarket sector to which he refers and produced a rather benign and bland report? Was he surprised at those conclusions and does he think that very different ones would be reached now?
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